Archive for the ‘Information Highway’ Category

Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on the Victim

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from The National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on Victims. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

For victims, the effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating. Victims may feel significant distress and display a wide range of psychological symptoms, both short- and long-term. They may feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. The abuse may disrupt victims’ development and increase the likelihood that they will experience other sexual assaults in the future.

In the short-term (up to two years), victims may exhibit regressive behaviors (e.g., thumb-sucking and bed-wetting in younger children), sleep disturbances, eating problems, behavior and/or performance problems at school, and unwillingness to participate in school or social activities.

Longer-term effects may be wide-ranging, to include anxiety-related, self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or drug abuse, anxiety attacks, and insomnia.

Victims may show fear and anxiety in response to people who share characteristics of the abuser, i.e., the same sex as the abuser or similar physical characteristics. Victims may experience difficulties in adult relationships and adult sexual functioning.

Survivors may feel anger at the abuser, at adults who failed to protect them, and at themselves for not having been able to stop the abuse.

Victims may experience traumatic sexualization, or the shaping of their sexuality in “developmentally inappropriate” and “interpersonally dysfunctional” ways.

Victims may feel betrayed and an inability to trust adults because someone they depended on has caused them great harm or failed to protect them.

Victims may feel powerless because the abuse has repeatedly violated their body space and acted against their will through coercion and manipulation.

Abusers may cause victims to feel stigmatized (i.e., ashamed, bad, deviant) and responsible for the molestation.

Victims of child sexual abuse have higher rates of victimization (later sexual assaults) than non-victims.

Some victims may appear to be free of the above symptoms.

A study conducted in 1986 found that 63% of women who had suffered sexual abuse by a family member also reported a rape or attempted rape after the age of 14. Recent studies in 200, 2002, and 2005 have all concluded similar results.

Children who had an experience of rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college.

Those with a prior history of sexual victimization are extremely likely to be re-victimized. Some research estimates an increased risk of over 1000%.

A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.

Common Symptoms in Adult Survivors of CSA

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from Tracy, N.. (2017). Common Symptoms in Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Retrieved December 21, 2017 from

Physical Symptoms of Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms/distress
  • Musculoskeletal complaints
  • Obesity, eating disorders
  • Insomnia, sleep disorders
  • Pseudocyesis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Asthma, respiratory ailments
  • Addictions (alcohol addiction/drug addiction)
  • Chronic headache
  • Chronic back pain

Psychological and Behavioral Symptoms of Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress disordersymptoms
  • Dissociative states
  • Repeated self-injury
  • Suicide attempts
  • Lying, stealing, truancy, running away
  • Poor contraceptive practices
  • Compulsive sexual behaviors
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Somatizing disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor adherence to medical recommendations
  • Intolerance of or constant search for intimacy
  • Expectation of early death

Adverse Childhood Exposures (ACEs)

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences occur in a child’s life before the age of 18 and are remembered by that child as an adult. Such traumatic event may include: psychological (emotional), physical, or sexual abuse; violence against mother; or living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or criminal or imprisoned household members.

maltreatment (child abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, bullying, etc.) causes stress that can disrupt early brain development, and serious, chronic stress can harm the development of the nervous and immune systems.

Long Lasting Effects of ACEs

Children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These problems include alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, smoking, suicide, and certain chronic diseases. ACEs have a strong and cumulative impact on the health and functioning of adults. The toxic levels of stress or trauma related to Adverse Childhood Experiences is linked to poor physical and mental health, chronic disease, lower educational achievement, lower economic success, and impaired social success in adulthood.

Adverse childhood experiences have been linked to:

  • risky health behaviors
  • chronic health conditions
  • low life potential
  • early death

ACEs-Health Issues & Risky Behavior

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. Almost two-thirds of participants in a ACE’s study reported at least one ACE, and more than one in five reported three or more ACE’s. As the number of ACE’s increases so does the number of risk factors, as of the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement

Domestic Violence Effects on Children & Families

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Each year, millions of children and adolescents in the United States are exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities as both victims and witnesses. Even if they are not physically present, children may be affected by intentional harm done by another (for example, the murder of or an assault on a family member or close neighbor).

Children react to exposure to violence in different ways, and many children chow remarkable resilience. All too often, however, children who are exposed to violence undergo lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety and depression, and aggression and conduct problems.

They may be more prone to dating violence, delinquency, further victimization, and involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Moreover, being exposed to violence may impair a child’s capacity for partnering and parenting later in life, continuing the cycle of violence into the next generation.

Domestic violence in families is often hidden from view and devastates its victims physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. It threatens the stability of the family and negatively impacts on all family members, especially the children who learn from it that violence is an acceptable way to cope with stress or problems or to gain control over another person.

A recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)-funded study concluded that a majority of children in the United States have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities. The consequences of this problem are significant and widespread. Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

The term domestic violence, is often referred to as domestic abuse, battering, or family violence, and more recently as intimate partner violence (IPV). The Justice Department defines domestic violence “as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Another name for domestic violence, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines intimate partner violence (IPV) as “physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. THis type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. IPV can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum, ranging from one hit that may or may not impact the victim to chronic, severe battering.”

Family Violence

Domestic violence is also referred to as family violence. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ’s) defines family violence as “the occurrence of one or more of the following acts by a family or household member, but does not include acts of self-defense.”

  • Attempting to cause or causing physical harm to another family of household member.
  • Placing a family or household member in fear of physical harm.
  • Causing a family or household member to engage involuntarily in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.

Domestic Violence – Adult Statistics

In addiction to the immediate impact, intimate partner violence has lifelong consequences. A number of studies have shown that beyond injury and death, victims of IPV are more likely to report a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes that are both acute and chronic in nature.

  • More than 10 million women and men in the United States experience physical violence each year by a current or former intimate partner.
  • Over 1 in 5 women 922.3%) experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • Approximately 9.2% of women and 2.5% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Domestic Violence – Child Statistics

Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorders; fail or have difficulty in school; and become delinquent and engage in criminal behavior.

  • Sixty percent of American children were exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities.
  • Almost 40 percent of American children were direct victims of 2 or more violent acts, and 1 in 10 were victims of violence 5 or more times.
  • Children are more likely to be exposed to violence and crime than adults.
  • Almost 1 in 10 American children saw one family member assault another family member, and more than 25 percent had been exposed to family violence during their lifetime.
  • A child’s exposure to one type of violence increases the likelihood that the child will be exposed to other types of violence and exposed multiple times.

What is Sexual Child Abuse?

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Sexual child abuse is a type of maltreatment, violation, and exploitation that refers to the involvement of the child in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator. It includes contact for sexual purposes, molestation, statutory rape, prostitution, pornography, exposure, incest, or other sexually exploitative activities.

Sexual Child Abuse Statistics:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
  • Over 58,000 children were sexually abused last year.
  • 8.3% of reported child abuse cases were sexual abuse.
  • 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.
  • 12.3% of girls were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization, and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • 27.8% of boys were age 10 or younger at the time of their victimization.
  • 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults.
  • 325,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of commercial child sexual exploitation each year.
  • Caregiver alcohol or drug abuse is a child risk factor putting kids at much higher risk for being abused.
  • The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14-years-old, and the average age for boys is 11 to 13-years-old.


What is Child Neglect?

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Neglect is the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a parent or caretaker under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health, safety or welfare. The term includes both acts of commission and omissions on the part of the responsible person. The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act defines two categories of physical neglect, severe neglect and general neglect.

Severe neglect means the negligent failure of a parent or caretaker to protect the child from severe malnutrition or medically diagnosed non-organic failure to thrive. It also means those situations of neglect where the parent or caretaker willfully causes or permits the person or health of the child to be placed in a situation such that his or her person or health is endangered. This includes the intentional failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.

General neglect means the negligent failure of a parent or caretaker to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision where no physical injury to the child has occurred.

An example of inadequate supervision is when parents leave their children unsupervised during the hours when the children are out of school. These parents are often unable to arrange childcare services to meet their needs. Although these parents may not regard themselves as “neglecting their children”, leaving young children without supervision may constitute general neglect. Children left in these circumstances may also be particularly vulnerable to accidents, injuries, or crime. Because these parents don’t see any wrongdoing, this is a very complicated area that is subject to controversy regarding the age when children should be left alone, societal and community responsibilities to provide resources, and governmental requirements.

Prenatal neglect is maternal substance (drug or alcohol) abuse coupled with significant risk factors that indicate the parent’s inability to provide the child with adequate care.

Psycho-Social Failure to Thrive

Infants or young children who are much smaller than would be expected at a particular age can present a difficult diagnostic problem for physicians. After excluding those infants who are small because they were small at birth, there remains a large group of infants with low weights and perhaps short lengths and small head circumferences. Some of these children are small because of failure to meet their nutritional needs and/or failure to meet their emotional needs. These children may also demonstrate delayed development and abnormal behavior. Some of the small children, however, do have hidden medical problems. Hospitalization may be required to screen for significant medical illness and, more important, to see if the child responds to adequate nutrition and a nurturing environment with a rapid weight gain and more appropriate behavior. Evaluation is more than weighting and measuring a baby. Children who suffer neglect may also receive sporadic disconnected medical care and are likely only to be examined in emergency rooms. They may have no ongoing measurement of development except as noted by caretakers. Growth charts compare the child to other children noting percentile size in head, body length and weight. Feeding failure for whatever reason will generally damage weight first, length second, and head circumference third, so it may be helpful to observe the caretaker’s feedings habits. In fact, the best environment to observe this is in the home. Pediatric expertise is vital to access such changes but growth charts should be kept on all infants and toddlers who may be suffering neglect.

Failure to document physical growth and other markers of child development may prevent an accurate diagnosis and make it impossible to protect a child or provide useful intervention.

If left untreated, the physical and/or emotional health of the child may be endangered, and emotional disorders, school problems, retardation, and other problems may result.

Indications of Neglect

Neglect may be suspected if any of the following conditions exist:

  • The child is lacking adequate medical or dental care.
  • The child is often sleepy or hungry.
  • The child is often dirty, demonstrates poor personal hygiene, or is inadequately dressed for weather conditions.
  • The child is depressed, withdrawn or apathetic; exhibits antisocial or destructive behavior, shows exaggerated fearfulness; or suffers from substance abuse, or speech, eating, or habit disorders (biting, rocking, whining).
  • There is evidence of poor supervision (repeated falls down stairs; repeated ingestion of harmful substances; a child cared for by another child); the child is left alone in the home, or unsupervised under any circumstance (left in car, street).
  • The conditions in the home are unsanitary (garbage, animal, or human excrement); the home lacks heating or plumbing; there are fire hazards or other unsafe home conditions; the sleeping arrangements are cold, dirty, or otherwise inadequate.
  • The nutritional quality of food in the home is poor; meals are not prepared; refrigerator or cupboards contain spoiled food.

While some of these conditions may exist in any home environment for a variety of different reasons, e.g., poverty, welfare reform, and limitations of entitlement programs, it is the extreme or persistent presence of these factors that indicate some  degree of neglect.

Disarray and an untidy home do not necessarily mean the home is unfit. Extreme conditions resulting in an “unfit home” constitute neglect that may justify protective custody and dependency proceedings under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, as well as criminal neglect charges.

What is Emotional Maltreatment?

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Just as physical injuries can scar and incapacitate a child, emotional maltreatment can cripple and handicap a child emotionally, behaviorally and intellectually. Self-esteem can be damaged. Sever psychological disorders have been traced to excessively distorted parental attitudes and actions. One of the hallmarks of emotional abuse is the absence of positive interaction (e.g., praising) from parent to their child. Emotional and behavioral problems may be present, in varying degrees, following chronic and severe emotional child abuse, especially when there is little or no nurturing.

This is especially true for neonates, infants and toddlers. These children may become chronically withdrawn and anxious and lose basic social and language skills necessary for intimate relationships. They may become developmentally delayed, socially limited, and, in some cases, antisocial or chronically unable to protect themselves from others.

Verbal assault (belittling, screaming, threats, blaming, sarcasm), unpredictable responses, continual negative moods, constant family discord, and chronically communicating conflicting messages are examples of ways parents may subject their children to emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse and neglect are also components of other abuse and neglect. Sexual abuse and physical abuse may be the official category for a report but emotional damage also exists. Emotional abuse/neglect may damage children of all ages but may be critical with infants and toddlers leaving them with permanent developmental deficits.

Child Behavioral Indicators

Emotional abuse may be suspected if the child:

  • is withdrawn, depressed and apathetic.
  • is clingy and forms indiscriminate attachments.
  • “acts out” and is considered a behavior problem (e.g., bullies others, chronically uses profanity).
  • exhibits exaggerated fearfulness.
  • is overly rigid in conforming to instructions of teachers, doctors, and other adults.
  • suffers from sleep, speech, or eating disorders.
  • displays other signs of emotional turmoil (repetitive, rhythmic movements; rocking, whining, picking at scabs). Child Abuse Prevention Handbook
  • suffers from enuresis (bed wetting) and fecal soiling.
  • pays inordinate attention to details, or exhibits little to no verbal of physical communication with others.
  • unwittingly makes comments such as, “Mommy/Daddy always tells me I’m bad.”

Behavioral Indicators for Parents/Caretakers

A child may become emotionally distressed when:

  • Parents or caretakers place demands on the child that are based on unreasonable or impossible expectations or without consideration of the child’s developmental capacity.
  • The child is used as a “battle ground” for marital conflicts.
  • The child is used to satisfy the parent’s/caregiver’s own ego needs and the child is neither old enough nor mature enough to understand.
  • The child victim is “objectified” bu the perpetrator, the child is referred to as “it” (“it” cried, “it” died).
  • The child is a witness to domestic violence.

Emotional abuse can be seen as proving a self-fulfulling prophecy. If a child is degraded enough, the child will begin to live up to the image communicated by the abusing parent or caretaker.

Emotional abuse cases can be extremely difficult to prove, and cumulative documentation by witnesses is imperative. Such Cases should be referred to treatment as soon as possible.

Suspected cases of emotional abuse that constitute willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child are required to be reported by mandated reporters. This means a report must be made of any situation where any person willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts on any child, unjustifiable mental suffering (Pen. Code, Section 11165.3). However, mandated reporters may also report any degree of mental suffering. While these cases may not always be prosecuted, reporting provides the opportunity for intervention and/or therapy with the family.

Emotional Deprivation

Emotional deprivation has been defined as “…the deprivation suffered by children when their parents do not provide the normal experiences producing feelings or being loved, wanted, secure, and worthy.”

Caretakers might also provide cause for evaluation and possible reporting of a neonate at risk. Withholding affection with touch, smiles and sound may be more damaging than verbal and even physical assault. Children may provoke assault if necessary to gain negative interaction rather than suffer the pain of being ignored. This may damage children of all ages but is critical for infants and young toddlers. Intervention may include consideration of caretaker depression, substance abuse, parenting deficits, and lack of social or financial support for the caretaker. Consideration should be made for evaluation of the caretaker for these issues as well as possible domestic violence.

Behavioral Indicators of Emotional Deprivation

Emotional deprivation may be suspected if the child:

  • Refuses to eat adequate amounts of food and is therefore very frail.
  • Is unable to perform normal learned functions for a given age (walking, talking); exhibits developmental delays, particularly with verbal and nonverbal social skills.
  • Displays antisocial behavior (aggression, behavioral disruption, bullying others) or obvious “delinquent” behavior (drug abuse, vandalism); conversely, is abnormally unresponsive, sad, or withdrawn.
  • Constantly “seeks out” and “pesters” other adults, such as teachers or neighbors, for attention and affection.
  • Displays exaggerated fears.
  • Apathy, withdrawal and lack of response to human interaction.

When parents ignore their children, whether because of drug or alcohol use, psychiatric disturbances, personal problems, outside activities, or other preoccupying situations, serious consequences can occur. However, reporting these situations is not mandated unless they constitute a form of legally defined abuse or neglect. Emotional neglect may be seen as a lesser form of child abuse/neglect. It may bot be reportable or may be assessed out with no intervention. It is, however, a central issue for much of what damages children.

These children may return with more severe damage and are therefore worthy of voluntary intervention and follow-up.

What is Physical Abuse?

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Physical abuse if any non-accidental act that results in physical injury. Inflicted physical injury most often represents unreasonably severe corporal punishment or unjustifiable punishment, This usually happens when a person is frustrated or angry and strikes, shakes, or throws the child. Intentional, deliberate assault, such as burning, biting, cutting, poking, twisting limbs, or otherwise torturing a child, is also included in this category of child abuse.

Indicators of Physical Abuse

These indicators are used to help distinguish accidental injuries from cases of suspected physical abuse:

  • Location & Types of Injuries- Padded areas as the buttocks, back of legs, genitalia and cheeks are more concerning in that it takes more force to cause bruising. Bruises happen when the blood vessels break under the skin. Thus children who are old enough to walk often fall and have bruises over boney surfaces such as the forehead, knees, shins where blood vessels are breaking between two hard surfaces (the floor for example, and underlying bone). However, simple falls and even disciplinary spanking with an open palm should not be forceful enough to cause bruising to the buttocks. Protected areas such as ears, neck, and upper lip are more concerning because it is difficult to accidentally bump or fall on these areas. Patterned injuries such as loop marks, slap marks, or grab marks are highly suspicious and in some cases indicative of inflicted trauma.


This history includes all facts about the child and the injury, including:

  • Statements by the child that the injury was caused by abuse.
  • Knowledge that a child’s injury is unusual for a specific age group (any fracture in an infant).
  • Unexplained injuries (parent, caretaker, or child is unable to explain reason for injury; there are discrepancies in explanation; blame is placed on a third party; explanations are inconsistent with medical diagnosis).
  • Parent or caretaker delays seeking care for a child or fails to seek appropriate care.

Behavioral Indicators

Children may exhibit new or concerning behaviors for a number of reasons including child abuse as well as other sources of childhood stress such as parental divorce, death in the family, etc. If a child exhibits drastic behavioral changes, is excessively aggressive, violent or destructive, is cruel to animals, or becomes visibly depressed or suicidal, a serious mental health evaluation should be done. In addiction, it may be an indication that the child has been abused. If abuse is suspected, the mandated reporter must inform Child Protective Services or law enforcement about their concerns.

Types of Injuries

Damage to Skin & Surface Tissue:

  • Bruises
  • Abrasions, Lacerations
  • Bite Marks
  • Burns

Damage to Brain

  • Head Injuries
  • Abusive Head Trauma

Damage to Other Internal Organs

  • Internal Injuries

Damage to Skeleton

  • Fractures

What is Child Abuse?

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Child abuse takes many forms, physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, neglect, exploitation, and more. When we speak of child abuse, we normally first think of physical abuse, spankings, and whoopings, but the shocking truth is that neglect is the number one form of child abuse in America. More children die from neglect every year, than any other form of childhood maltreatment.

General Definition of Child Abuse:

Any 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 of a child, or an act or failure to act presenting an imminent risk of serious harm to a child.

Types of Child Abuse:

  • Physical Abuse: Physical hitting, unlawful corporal punishment or injury.
  • Neglect: General and severe, lack of basic needs, malnutrition.
  • Emotional Abuse: Causing psychological or emotional instability.
  • Verbal Abuse: Yelling, screaming, belittling, bullying, cursing.
  • Sexual Abuse: Sexual assault, pornography, exploitation.
  • Child Safety: Willfully harming or endangering a child, hot cars.
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome: Shaking causes death or permanent brain damage.
  • Domestic Violence: Dysfunctional or violent home or family.
  • Substance Abuse: Parent or caregiver’s personal drug & alcohol abuse.
  • Abandonment: Parent’s identity or whereabouts unknown, no support.

Abuse Definitions:

  • Physical Abuse- Any intentional, non-accidental physical injury to a child, including: striking, kicking, burning, biting, cutting, poking, twisting limbs, shaking, throwing, or torturing a child.
  • Neglect- General neglect is the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, nurturing, or supervision whereby a child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm. Severe neglect results from negligent failure to protect the child from severe malnutrition or medically diagnosed non-organic failure to thrive.
  • Emotional Abuse- The failure of a parent or caregiver to provide adequate nurturing or positive interaction to a child, causing injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child, observable as a substantial change in behavior, emotional response, cognition, anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.
  • Verbal Abuse- Verbal abuse includes, belittling, screaming, threats, blaming, sarcasm, bullying, harsh and insulting language, unpredictable responses, continual negative moods, constant family discord, and chronically communicating conflicting messages to children.
  • Sexual Abuse- Any violation, exploitation, or sexual activity with a child to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator. This includes contact for sexual purposes, molestation, statutory rape, prostitution, pornography, exposure, incest, or other sexually exploitative activities.
  • Child Safety- Child safety is a subset of child neglect, and includes leaving young children and babies unsupervised, or leaving children in locked cars with the window up. Hot cars can be lethal to young children. Young children should never be left unsupervised anywhere for any length of time.
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)- It is a severe form of physical child abuse resulting from violent shaking of an infant or young child by the shoulders, arms, or legs. SBS may result from both shaking alone or from shaking with impact, often resulting in permanent irreversible brain damage or death. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is preventable. NEVER shake a baby!
  • Domestic Violence- Children exposed to violence in the home or among family members, undergo lasting physical, mental and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety and depression, and aggression and conduct problems.
  • Substance Abuse- Use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and controlled substances by a parent or controlled impairs their ability to adequately care for a child. Use of these substances during pregnancy cause prenatal harm to the fetus. Babies are born addicted to the same drugs as the mother has taken throughout the pregnancy. Exposing a child to the chemicals, equipment, or manufacture of illicit drugs, and selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a minor child.
  • Abandonment- Is defined as the parent’s identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left by the parent in circumstances in which the child suffers serious harm, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or to provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that definitions of child abuse and neglect vary by state, which is one of the problems in under-reporting and preventing child maltreatment. The Center for Disease Control has proposed more uniform definitions. It is also worth noting that child abuse in any form is a civil and criminal offense. Therefore, to protect children and parents, American SPCC recommends parents and caregivers seek information and education promoting the positive care of children and positive parenting skills.

Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S.

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Child Abuse in America

American children are suffering from a hidden  epidemic of child abuse and neglect. National child abuse estimates are well known for being under-reported. The latest 2015 Child Maltreatment Report from The Children’s Bureau was published in January 2017. The report shows an increase in child abuse referrals from 3.6 million to 4 million. The number of children involved subsequently increased to 7.2 million from 6.6 million. The report also indicates an increase in child deaths from abuse and neglect to 1,670 in 2015, up from 1,580 in 2014 (1). Some reports estimate child abuse fatalities at 1,740 or even higher.

The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing an average almost five (5) children every day to child abuse and neglect.

National Child Abuse Statistics

  • 4 million child maltreatment referral reports received.
  • Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children.
  • 3.4 million children received prevention & post-response services.
  • 207,000 children received foster care services.
  • 75.3% of victims are neglected.
  • 17.2% of victims are physically abused.
  • 8.4% of victims are sexually abused.
  • 6.9% of victims are psychologically maltreated.
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under one (24.2% per 1,000).
  • Over one-quarter (27%) of victims are younger than 3 years.
  • Annual estimate: 1,670 to 1,740 children died from abuse and neglect.
  • Almost five children die every day from child abuse.
  • 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
  • 74.8% of child fatalities are under the age of 3.
  • 72.9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.
  • 43.9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.
  • 49.4% of  children who die from child abuse are under one year.
  • Almost 60,000 children are sexually abused.
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.
  • Estimated that between 50-60% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.
  • Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.

Child Abuse & Criminal Behavior

  • 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

Child Abuse Consequences

  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Abused teens are more likely to engage in sexual risk taking, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
  • In at least one study, about 80% of 21-year-olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
  • The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States is estimated at $585 billion.

Child Abuse Risk Factors

  • Alcohol abuse (parent/caregiver) – the compulsive use of alcohol that is not of a temporary nature.
  • Drug abuse (parent/caregiver) – the compulsive use of drugs that is not of a temporary nature.
  • Domestic violence (parent/caregiver) – abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another.

Child Abuse & Alcohol/Substance Abuse

  • 1/3 to 2/3 of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree.
  • In one study, children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs were three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families.
  • Two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused or neglected as children.
  • More than a third of adolescents with a report of abuse or neglect will have a substance use disorder before their 18th birthday, three times as likely as those without a report of abuse or neglect.
  • 10.3% – 15.8% of children have a parent/caregiver alcohol abuse risk factor.
  • 25.4% – 33.2% of children have a parent/caregiver drug abuse risk factor.
  • 25% – 33.2% of children have a domestic violence abuse risk factor.