Types of Child Abuse
Physical abuse of children often results from unreasonably severe corporal punishment or unjustifiable punishment such as hitting an infant for crying or soiling his or her diapers. Intentional, deliberate assaults on children include burning, biting, cutting, poking, twisting limbs, or scald-ing with hot water. The victim often has evidence of old injuries (e.g., scars, untreated fractures, or multiple bruises of various ages) that the history given by parents or care-givers does not explain adequately.
Sexual abuse involves sexual acts performed by an adult on a child younger than 18 years. Examples include incest, rape, and sodomy performed directly by the person or with an object, oral–genital contact, and acts of moles-tation such as rubbing, fondling, or exposing the adult’s genitals. Sexual abuse may consist of a single incident or multiple episodes over a protracted period. A second type of sexual abuse involves exploitation, such as making, promoting, or selling pornography involving minors, and coercion of minors to participate in obscene acts.
Neglect is malicious or ignorant withholding of physi-cal, emotional, or educational necessities for the child’s well-being. Child abuse by neglect is the most prevalent type of maltreatment and includes refusal to seek health care or delay doing so; abandonment; inadequate supervi-sion; reckless disregard for the child’s safety; punitive, exploitive, or abusive emotional treatment; spousal abuse in the child’s presence; giving the child permission to be truant; or failing to enroll the child in school.
Psychological abuse (emotional abuse) includes verbal assaults, such as blaming, screaming, name-calling, and using sarcasm; constant family discord characterized by fighting, yelling, and chaos; and emotional deprivation or withholding of affection, nurturing, and normal experi-ences that engender acceptance, love, security, and self-worth. Emotional abuse often accompanies other types of abuse (e.g., physical or sexual abuse). Exposure to parentalalcoholism, drug use, or prostitution—and the neglect that results—also fall within this category.