Child Abuse Facts (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is any injury that is intentionally inflicted on a child by a caregiver. While the caregiver is usually an adult, most often the mother of the child, it can also include teenagers who are in the caregiving role, like a babysitter or a camp counselor. It is important to understand that child abuse must involve injury, whether physical or emotional, visible or not immediately visible. So while most child-care professionals (for example, psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, and teachers) do not recommend the use of corporal punishment due to the risk of emotional damage and accidental physical injury, spanking a child does not automatically constitute child abuse unless the child sustains some kind of injury.

About 40 million children worldwide suffer abuse every year, affecting all educational and socioeconomic levels, ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Many other important statistics regarding this public-health problem in the United States include that its cost to society is more than $120 billion per year and that with more than 3 million referrals to state and local agencies every year, an average of six such referrals occur every minute. More than 1,500 children die each year as a result of child abuse.

The most common form of child abuse in the United States is being left at home alone without adult supervision, also called supervision neglect. All forms of neglect account for about 75% of all the child abuse reports made to child welfare authorities. Other common forms of child abuse include physical assault, physical neglect, emotional abuse, and sexual assault that involves physical contact.

Child abuse has far-reaching negative effects on its victims and on society. Survivors of child maltreatment are at greater risk for physical, emotional, work, and relationship problems throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/26/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Child Abuse - Prevention Question: What steps have you taken to stop or prevent child abuse?