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Child Abuse

Summary

Child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect, or not providing for a child's needs, is also a form of abuse.

Most abused children suffer greater emotional than physical damage. An abused child may become depressed. He or she may withdraw, think of suicide or become violent. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away or abuse others.

Child abuse is a serious problem. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the police or your local child welfare agency.

Start Here

  • Child Abuse: The Hidden Bruises (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) Also in Spanish
  • Understanding Child Trauma (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Also in Spanish
  • What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms (Children's Bureau) - PDF

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect (Children's Bureau) Also in Spanish

Related Issues

  • Questions and Answers about Memories of Childhood Abuse (American Psychological Association)

Specifics

  • Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
  • Acts of Omission: An Overview of Child Neglect (Children's Bureau)
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus)
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in Spanish

Statistics and Research

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • CDC Vital Signs: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Clinical Trials

  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Child Abuse From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: Identification of red flag child sexual grooming behaviors.
  • Article: Promoting permanency in families with parental substance misuse: lessons from a...
  • Article: The Efficacy of a Resilience-Enhancement Program for Mothers Based on Emotion...
  • Child Abuse -- see more articles

Reference Desk

  • National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Glossary (Administration for Children and Families) - PDF

Find an Expert

  • Administration for Children and Families
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Children

  • Going to a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or Therapist (For Kids) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
  • How to Handle Abuse (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish

Teenagers

  • Abuse: What You Need to Know (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
  • Going to a Therapist (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
  • Youth and Teens Page (National Runaway Safeline)

Men

  • Helping Yourself Heal: A Recovering Man's Guide to Coping with the Effects of Childhood Abuse (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF

Women

  • Helping Yourself Heal: A Recovering Woman's Guide to Coping with Childhood Abuse Issues (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF Also in Spanish

Patient Handouts

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

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