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 thrive.
Physical abuse causes bodily injuries, such as bruises, burns, fractures, cuts, punctures, or organ damage. Physical abuse includes harming a fetus, such as when someone who is pregnant is purposefully injured. Some states consider substance use during pregnancy 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 the child 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 abuse.
Sexual abuse is any sexual contact between an adult and a child (or between an older child and a younger child). This includes sexual acts and touching. But it doesn't always involve physical contact. For example, showing pornography to a child is sexual abuse.
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