What is Child Abuse?

“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 or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” (childwelfare.gov)

This definition of child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A “child” under this definition generally means a person who is younger than age 18 or who is not an emancipated minor.

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CPLC Parenting Arizona can help you identify child abuse, and more importantly, can help you prevent it.

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Maltreatment that results in impaired psychological growth and development, leading to poor self-esteem, lack of trust, and difficulties in forming lasting relationships:

  • nagging, criticizing, humiliation
  • cruel humor, hostile acts
  • name calling, verbal abuse
  • constant “put downs”, rejection, intimidation

 Physical Indicators:

  • Habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking, etc.)
  • Conduct disorders (antisocial, destructive, etc.)
  • Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, speech disorders, inhibition of play)
  • Psychoneurotic reactions (hysteria, obsession, compulsion, phobias, hypochondria)

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Poor self image
  • Overly shy and/or needy
  • Feels as if their punishments aren’t harsh enough
  • Afraid to go home
  • If confronted, gives wild stories which change each time asked
  • Pathological lying
  • Behavior extremes (compliant and passive, aggressive and demanding)
  • Overly adoptive behavior (inappropriately adult, inappropriately infant)
  • Developmental lags (physical, mental, emotional)
  • Attempted suicide

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Any non-accidental injury to a child:

  • Black eyes
  • Scalding, burning and even death
  • Fractured bones, internal injuries, brain damage
  • Bruises, bites, beatings
  • Inappropriate discipline such as kicking, hitting with fist or object, throwing the child, hair pulling, etc.

Unexplained bruises and welts:

  • On face, lips, mouth
  • On face, lips, mouth
  • On torso, back, buttocks, thighs
  • In various stages of healing
  • Clustered, forming regular patterns
  • Reflecting shape of article used to inflict (electric cord, belt buckle)
  • On several different surface areas
  • Regularly appear after absence, weekend or vacation

Unexplained burns:

  • Cigar, cigarette burns, especially on soles, palms, backs, or buttocks
  • Immersion burns (sock-like, glove-like, doughnut shaped on buttocks or genitalia
  • Patterned like electric burner, iron, etc.
  • Rope burns on arms, legs, neck or torso.

Unexplained fractures:

  • To skull, nose, facial structure
  • In various stages of healing
  • Multiple or spiral fractures

Unexplained lacerations or abrasions:

  • To mouth, lips, gums, eyes
  • To external genitalia

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Wary of adult contacts
  • Apprehensive when other children cry
  • Behavioral extremes like aggressiveness or withdrawal
  • Frightened of parents
  • Afraid to go home
  • Reports injury by parent

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Sexual contact between a child and adult or older child for the sexual gratification of the offender:

  • Touching offenses: fondling, intercourse or attempted intercourse, touching of the genitals, incest, prostitution, rape
  • Non-touching offenses: exhibitionism, voyeurism, child pornography, verbal sexual stimulation

Physical Indicators:

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vaginal or anal areas
  • Venereal disease, especially in pre-teens
  • Pregnancy

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Unwilling to change for gym or participate in PE
  • Withdrawal, fantasy or infantile behavior
  • Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Delinquent or run away
  • Reports sexual assault by caretaker

 

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Failure to provide an environment in which the child can thrive, learn and develop. This is probably the most difficult to identify due to its subtle manifestations:

  • Ignoring the child
  • Rejecting the child
  • Locking the child in a closet or similar type of small dark space
  • Isolating the child from normal peer experiences

Physical Indicators:

  • Habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking, etc.)
  • Conduct disorders (antisocial, destructive, etc.)
  • Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, speech disorders, inhibition of play)
  • Psychoneurotic reactions (hysteria, obsession, compulsion, phobias, hypochondria)

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Poor self image
  • Overly shy and/or needy
  • Feels as if their punishments aren’t harsh enough
  • Afraid to go home
  • If confronted, gives wild stories which change each time asked
  • Behavior extremes (compliant and passive, aggressive and demanding)
  • Overly adoptive behavior (inappropriately adult, inappropriately infant)
  • Developmental lags (physical, mental, emotional)
  • Attempted suicide

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Failure to provide the necessities of life for a child:

  • Not providing medical treatment
  • Failing to give adequate food, shelter, and clothing
  • Not giving the proper supervision

Physical Indicators:

  • Consistent hunger, poor hygiene, inappropriate dress
  • Consistent lack of supervision, especially in dangerous activities or long periods
  • Constant fatigue or listlessness
  • Unattended physical problems or medical needs
  • Abandonment

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Begging, stealing food
  • Extended stays at school (early arrival and late departure)
  • Constantly falling asleep in class
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Delinquency, thefts
  • States there is no caregiver

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