According to the National Children’s’ Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are abused every year in America, and in 2015 abuse killed 1,670 children. Infants in the first year of their life are most likely to be victims. We all share a responsibility for recognizing and helping to end all types of child abuse.
Know the four types of child abuse
The World Health Organization and most other leading experts recognize four types of child abuse
- Psychological, and
- Deprivation or neglect.
So what are the different types of child abuse?
Physical abuse tends to be the most obvious. A kid may show up with a broken bone or a bruise, and after answering a few questions the child may disclose the abuse. In an infant, the shaken baby syndrome is a common and sometimes deadly type of physical abuse.
Sexual abuse can be harder to recognize. Obviously, any type of intercourse with a child is rape, because a child cannot legally consent. Genital contact, fondling, exposure, or production of pornography are also common types of child abuse.
According to AbuseWatch, about 90% of child sexual abuse is incest or perpetrated by someone the child knows.
Larry Nassar, for example, abused dozens of young women and girls in his role as a doctor without anyone figuring it out for many years.
Psychological abuse is often an overlooked type of abuse. It includes a repeated pattern of a caregiver showing a child they are unloved or unwanted.
This can include everything from verbal insults to deliberately isolating the child from social interactions.
Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s needs. It is one of the most complicated types of child abuse because parents can easily intend to do the right thing but still cause neglect or deprivation.
Physical is the most common type of neglect. It includes failing to provide food, clothing, supervision, or a safe home.
Medical neglect occurs when a child is denied access to doctors and dentists.
Educational neglect occurs when a child fails to get age-appropriate learning opportunities.
Finally, when a child is denied emotional support or loving interactions, those actions can be types of child abuse as well.
Where is the line between abuse and acceptable discipline?
Physical abuse is one of the most common types of child abuse. That is largely because there can be such a fine line between acceptable discipline and abuse.
Groups like the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance have tried to explain the different types of child abuse and when discipline becomes abusive.
1. Knowing actions
The first factor is “knowing” actions.
That means that when a parent knows their actions will harm the child it is abuse.
2. Acting recklessly
Another factor is acting “recklessly.”
When a parent makes decisions while enraged they can be reckless and abusive.
3. Intentionally causing harm
“Intentionally” causing harm to a child is another factor. Sometimes a parent may accidentally spank a child too hard, but when a parent intentionally tries to cause lasting damage (like painful bruises) that can be considered abuse.