4 Forms of Child Abuse and Neglect

By Tedia Gamino

According to a report from the CDC, 1,750 children in the U.S. died from abuse and neglect in 2020, and in the past year 1 in every 7 children were neglected or abused. A majority of abuse and neglect cases, though, are not reported and these unfortunate figures could be much higher. Children may suffer the abuse of parents and caregivers, and custodians like teachers, coaches, and religious leaders.

There are typically four forms of abuse and neglect:

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Emotional abuse
  4. Neglect—unmet needs

Understanding the signs of each type of abuse and neglect can help you know when a child is in trouble. We’ll dive deeper into each.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is intentionally using force that can cause physical injury. The most common examples of physical abuse include shaking, kicking, hitting, and even burning.

Common signs of physical abuse include:

  • Injuries that form the shape of an object
  • Bruises and welts
  • Burns
  • Fearing to go home; fear of parents
  • Delayed medical attention
  • Fractures that don’t coincide with an explanation
  • Behavioral extremes; very withdrawn or very aggressive

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when a child is forced or pressured to participate in sexual acts. This includes penetration, fondling, and other sexual activities.

A child who’s sexually abused may show these signs:

  • Itchy, swelling, or pain in the genital region
  • Discharge, bleeding, and bruising in the genital area
  • Venereal disease
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Pain when urinating
  • Bloody or stained undergarments
  • An interest in sex that’s unusual for their age
  • School delinquency
  • Running away from home

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse involves acts that affect a child’s emotional well-being and self-worth. Oftentimes these acts include threatening, name-calling, withholding love, rejecting, and shaming.

Emotionally-abused children often show the following signs:

  • Self-denigration
  • Low self-esteem
  • Severe depression
  • Failure to learn
  • Extreme withdrawal
  • Unusual aggression  

Signs of Neglect

Neglect is when a child’s emotional and physical needs are not met. Such needs include food, clothing, housing, and access to medical care and education. Neglect can also mean failing to validate and appropriately respond to a child’s feelings.

Common signs of child neglect include:

  • A lack of supervision for long periods, and being left alone
  • Poor hygiene
  • Failure to go to school; frequent absences
  • Malnutrition; constant hunger
  • A lack of medical attention
  • Being inappropriately dressed for the weather

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Abuse or Child Neglect Charges?

If you’ve been charged with child abuse or child neglect, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino