What Is Abuse

Abuse: an act which seriously endangers the physical, mental or emotional health of a child.

the physical handling of a child in a manner that serves to discharge the parent’s (or other adult’s) anger. Includes any use of excessive force which threatens the health or well-being of the child, even if the person considers the acts appropriate discipline.

Examples: beatings, burns, human bites, strangulation, immersion in scalding water, Shaken Baby Syndrome

Results in: broken bones, bruises, welts, scars, internal injuries.


a pattern of behavior that attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth.

Examples: withholding love and affection, constant criticizing, belittling, insulting, rejection, parental demands for perfection, conflicting or erratic demands, unfavorable comparisons to other siblings and use of shaming to punish.


denotes the exploitation of a child for sexual gratification of a perpetrator. Sexual abuse may range from exposure and fondling to intercourse.

Examples: incest, child prostitution, child pornography

Physical: fondling, inappropriate touching, rape or attempted rape, making child pornography.

Non-physical: indecent exposure, talk about sex designed to shock or interest the child, allowing child to watch or hear sexual acts or materials.


the failure of a caretaker to provide the child with the basic necessities of life.


Physical: lack of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education

Emotion: failure to provide love, support and guidance.


use of insulting, belittling language to scold or harshly revile the child; Unkind words that are aimed at tearing down or destroying a child’s self-image.

Examples: unkind words aimed at tearing down or destroying a child’s self-worth.

Call KIDLINE (1-800-CHILDREN) for more information on how to report abuse in your area.