Child abuse and neglect is any harm to a child that is not an
accident. Child abuse and neglect is also called child maltreatment.
Child abuse and neglect takes many forms.
Neglect is when parents
or caregivers fail to ensure a child's health and well-being. Neglect may
result from not providing a child with appropriate shelter, schooling,
clothing, medical care, or protection from hazards. A variety of short-term and
long-term problems result, such as developmental delays and failure to
Physical abuse causes bodily injuries,
such as bruises, burns, fractures, cuts, punctures, or organ damage. Physical
abuse includes harming a fetus, such as when a pregnant woman has substance
abuse problems or is purposefully injured. Some states do not consider the use
of substances by a pregnant woman to be physical abuse.
Emotional (psychological) abuse is a repeated pattern of intentional verbal or
behavioral actions or lack of actions toward a child that give the message that
he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value
to meet someone else's needs. Withholding emotional support, isolating, or
terrorizing a child are forms of emotional abuse. Intimate partner (domestic)
violence that is witnessed by a child is also considered a form of emotional
Sexual abuse is any act with a child
that is intended to sexually gratify an older child or adult. It includes any
sexual activity that a child does not comprehend or consent to, or that is
against the law. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposing a child to pornography
are also types of sexual abuse.
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics