The potential for harm or the threat of imminent harm to a child under the age of 18 from mistreatment or neglect by an adult is child abuse.
The majority of perpetrators are parents of the child, though the adult may be a relative, caregiver, step-parent, religious figure, coach, or babysitter.
At a rate of 8.9 per 1,000 children, children in the United States experience child abuse or neglect. An adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have long-term impacts on an individual’s health and well-being, child abuse is considered.
There are four main categories of child abuse: emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect. Child abuse can occur in a single instance or in several instances, but it falls within one of these four categories.
1. Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is a type of psychological or verbal abuse that is persistent and causes a child to believe they are unwanted, unloved, worthless, or only valuable in meeting their perpetrator’s needs.
Emotionally abusive behavior is often present in all categories of child abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, but it can be difficult to recognize or document. A child’s emotional development often suffers as a result of verbal abuse.
2. Sexual abuse
No child can legally consent to any kind of sexual act. Sexual abuse is any sexual activity between an adult and a minor. The perpetrator is known to the child or family in more than 90% of child sexual abuse cases.
Abuse is considered to be any sexually exploitative act conducted by an adult to a child or in the presence of a child. The perpetrator doesn’t have to physically touch the child to sexually abuse them.
Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in children can include secrets, inappropriate sexual behavior, avoidance of removing clothing, changes in eating habits, recurring pain during urination, mood changes, or loss of profit in school and activities, among others.
Sexual abuse can cause a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy. Sexual abuse in adolescents is known to cause a number of mental health problems, such as self-harm, substance abuse, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation.
3. Physical abuse
Physical abuse is any act of harm committed against a child that results in injury, even if it’s unintentional. Child abuse of any kind can have lasting effects into adulthood, including physical and mental health problems, as well as being a common cause of child mortality.
A child who has been harmed may exhibit physical signs, such as bruises, burns, scarring, hair loss, bone fractures, or other injuries. They may hide certain body parts with clothing to avoid detection, or they may blame the injury on a sibling to deflect attention.
The explanation of the injury that they give may not match the injury itself. They may also delay seeking medical care, change primary care providers frequently, or have a long history of visiting the emergency department for primary care.
Although some parents continue to spank their children as a form of punishment, it can be viewed as a form of physical abuse, as it can lead to emotional and/or physical harm.
In 61% of child abuse cases, neglect is present. The commonly form of child maltreatment in the USA is neglect. The neglect of a child occurs when the responsible party fails to provide the necessities like food, water, shelter, and clothing.
This also includes failing to provide medical care or supervision which would result in harm, or the threat of harm, to the child.
Neglect can occur with or without intention; unfortunately, it can have dire consequences. The financial resources of a parent or caregiver may not be sufficient to buy food, maintain shelter, or clothe their children.
This maltreatment can still result in developmental problems, cognitive impairments, and emotional, social, and behavioral problems. If neglected, one may suffer from sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, visual hallucinations, cognitive delays, antisocial personality disorder, dysthymia, and other mental health conditions.