Richard F. Gibbons, Jr., PLC
Child Abuse
Child abuse consists of any act or omission of an act that endangers or impairs a child's physical or emotional health and development. The severity of the abuse can range from mild to severe in nature. Millions of children are the victims of child abuse each year. There are various people who commit child abuse; most often it is the child's parent, caregiver, or family member. There are several different types of child abuse.

Physical Abuse

When one thinks of child abuse the first type of abuse that may come to one's mind is physical abuse. Physical abuse is defined as any non-accidental injury to a child. Types of physical abuse include:

  • Biting.
  • Burning.
  • Choking.
  • Cutting.
  • Hitting.
  • Kicking.
  • Pinching.
  • Slapping.
  • Whipping.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse as it pertains to child abuse may be defined as any attitude or behavior that interferes with a child's mental health or social development. Types of emotional abuse may include screaming, negative comparisons, lack of love, ignoring the child, and lack of any physical or emotional affection.

Indicators of Physical or Emotional Abuse

With respect to physical abuse, the indicators are often more obvious than with other types of abuses. The child victim may have bruises, cuts, burns, and marks on her body that may indicate abuse. Often times these signs are quite visible. With respect to emotional abuse, the indicators are not quite as obvious. The child victim of emotional abuse may be shy or withdrawn, may have a very negative outlook on life, and may have difficulty in school and in social settings.

Sexual Abuse

This abuse is defined as any sexual act between a child and an adult or the use of a child for the sexual pleasure of someone else. Many children are victims of sexual abuse. It is believed that one in four girls and one in ten boys are the victim of such abuse. Types of sexual abuse include:

  • Fondling.
  • Exposure of genitals.
  • Actual Penetration.
  • Oral Penetration.

Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • Difficulties walking or standing.
  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding.
  • Torn undergarments or clothing.
  • Pain or itching in genital area.
  • Pregnancy.

Prosecution of Child Abusers

States have various different laws with respect to the prosecution of child abusers. Depending on the severity of the abuse, the abuser may be charged with various different crimes including assault, battery, child endangerment, sexual assault, incest, and rape. All states have laws in effect that would prosecute sexual abuse as a sexual assault.

Investigation and Social Services

If the child abuse matter has been referred to a state or local social agency then an investigation will occur. The child may be removed from the home temporarily, permanently or not at all, depending upon the circumstances involved. States have different requirements and reporting procedures for individuals. For example, most states require that any medical professional that suspects that a child is a victim of child abuse to report the suspected abuse to the proper authorities.


There are numerous physical and behavioral indicators that may suggest that a child is a victim of child abuse. The parent should carefully look at any emotional or behavioral changes in a child as they may indicate that the child is in some type of abusive relationship either at home, at a caregiver's or at school.

Copyright 2007 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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