What is child abuse and neglect?
abuse means doing something that hurts a child. Neglect means not giving or doing something that a child
- Physical abuse includes hitting, kicking, shaking, pinching, and burning. It may
leave bruises, cuts, or other marks and cause pain, broken bones, or internal
- Emotional abuse is saying or doing things that make a
child feel unloved, unwanted, unsafe, or worthless. It can range from yelling
and threatening to ignoring the child and not giving love and support. It may
not leave scars you can see, but the damage to a child is just as
- Sexual abuse is any sexual contact between an adult and a
child or between an older child and a younger child. Showing pornography to a
child is a type of sexual abuse.
- Neglect happens when a child
does not get the shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care, or protection he
or she needs. Child neglect is just as serious as abuse and is more
Abuse or neglect hurts children in many ways. Young children are at special risk. They
may not grow properly. They may have learning problems. They may feel bad
about themselves and not trust other people. They may be scared or angry.
Sometimes they die.
Children often believe that abuse
or neglect is their fault. They may think that they did something wrong and
deserve what happened. It is up to adults who care to protect them.
What can you do if you suspect that a child has been abused or neglected?
Call the police or local child protective
services. You don't have to give your name. If you don't know who to call, a hospital may be able to tell you. Many of them have special programs
to deal with child abuse and neglect.
If a child is in immediate
danger or has been badly hurt, don't wait. Call
911 or other emergency services right
If it is your own child, get him or her to a safe place and
stay there. This may be the home of a close friend or family member or a
domestic violence shelter. To find help in your area, call a trusted health professional, a child abuse organization, or the police.
If you are a child or teen who is being abused, don't keep
the secret. Tell someone who can make a difference: a trusted family member,
teacher, counselor, or doctor.
National Child Abuse hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer
information, advice, and support. Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
What can you do if you're afraid someone might harm your child?
If there is someone in your child's life who you think is close to becoming an abuser, you may be able to talk to that person about it and help the person learn more about managing stress and about how children grow and develop.
If you're afraid to talk to the person, make a specific plan for how you will protect your children if you think abuse is about to happen or has happened. Know who you will call and where you and your children will go.