Identifying the different forms of child abuse

Forms of child abuse:

Physical Abuse
Although legal definitions vary from state to state, physical abuse is broadly defined as any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child.

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse occurs when an adult or another child asks or pressures a child for sexual contact. The abuser may use physical abuse, bribery, threats, tricks, or take advantage of the child’s limited knowledge of sexual matters. Most cases are perpetrated by a person familiar to the child - usually NOT a stranger. Sexual abuse can also include taking photos of the child, or showing them pornography through pictures, magazines, movies, online, etc.

Emotional Abuse
Inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, permitting a child to use alcohol or other drugs. In addition, children who witness domestic violence or who live with a sex offender in their homes can fall under the umbrella of emotional abuse.

Neglect & Maltreatment
The failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. This can be in the form of physical, medical, education and emotional neglect.

Child Trafficking / Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
A commercially sexually exploited child is one under the age of 18 who engages, agrees to engage in, or offers to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money, clothing, food, shelter, education, goods or care. Exploited youth are not “child prostitutes,” they are child victims.

Shaken Baby Syndrome
Infants, babies or small children who suffer injuries or death from severe shaking, jerking, pushing or pulling may have been victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The act of shaking a baby is considered physical abuse, as spinal, head and neck injuries often result from violently shaking young children.

Institutional Abuse or Neglect
Abuse or neglect which occurs in any facility for children, including, but not limited to, group homes, residential or public or private schools, hospitals, detention and treatment facilities, family foster care homes, group day care centers and family day care homes.

Read specific definitions of child abuse and neglect in the state of Massachusetts.