Monday, April 21, 2008

What is Child Abuse?

Our Nation’s Children at Risk

A child abuse report is made every 10 seconds in the United States and that totals to 3 million reports made each year. Experts agree that the number of actual child abuse cases in the US is roughly three times the number being reported. Child abuse occurs at all socio-economic levels, across all ethnic and cultural, religious and educational levels. Nearly 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be the victim of child abuse prior to their 18th birthday. Most believe this is something that only happens to other people but as one expert said “to others you are the other person.”

What is Child Abuse?

Although there are many formal and acceptable definitions of child abuse, the following is offered as a guide. Child abuse consists of any act that endangers or impairs a child's physical or emotional health and development. Child abuse includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature.

Major forms of child abuse
Physical abuse - Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling.

Sexual abuse - Any sexual act between an adult and child. May also occur between children. This includes fondling, oral sex, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, or forced observation of sexual acts.

Neglect - Failure to provide for a child's physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care, and inadequate hygiene.

Emotional abuse - Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child's mental health or social development. This includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are "bad, no good, worthless" or "a mistake". It also includes the failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child's emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being.

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