Child Abuse

What Is Childabuse?

Child abuse is defined by the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. § 5106g) as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or, an act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” There are many different forms of child abuse, but it can include neglect, physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, or sexual abuse.
  • Neglect can be physical, emotional, or medical. Physical neglect results from parents or other caretakers failing to provide adequate nourishment, clothing, or shelter. Emotional neglect is failure to provide necessary affection. Medical neglect is failure to provide medical care.
  • Physical abuse results from a show of force that causes injury to the child, such as hitting or kicking.
  • Psychological/emotional abuse, such as name calling or other insults, can cause children to have low self-esteem and lose trust in others.
  • Sexual abuse is any sexual activity that a child cannot consent to, including exploitation and voyeurism. In California, the age of consent is 18.

Who Are The Victims?

Millions of child abuse cases are reported every year. There are no factors that make someone destined to be a child abuse victim or a perpetrator of child abuse, but cases of poverty can make neglect more likely, and parents who abuse drugs or alcohol can be more likely to abuse their children.

Recognizing Child Abuse

Signs that could indicate child abuse:
  • Injuries
  • Extreme weight changes
  • Fear of adults/caretakers
  • Running away from home
  • Social withdrawal/depression
These are just a few examples of signs; if you suspect someone is a victim of child abuse, trust your instinct and report it.

Child Abuse Prevention

Offering community support and resources to help struggling parents, and supervising children’s activities with other adults can help prevent child abuse from happening. Also, teaching kids how to be comfortable saying no, and making sure they understand that they will not get in trouble if they report a problem are important tools to help children protect themselves.

Resources for Victims of Child Abuse

  Go to the 1800VICTIMS.org homepage to find resources in your county including Victim Assistance Centers and local law enforcement agencies.