Child Maltreatment (Abuse) Prevention, Children Ages Birth to 19 Years

What is child maltreatment?

There are two types of child maltreatment:

Child Abuse
Words or actions that cause harm, possible harm, or threat of harm to a child. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.
Child Neglect
The failure to provide for a child's basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or possible harm. "Needs" can include food, shelter, clothing, hygiene, medical care, education, and/or supervision.

Who are the victims of child abuse and neglect?

Children of all ages can be victims of abuse and neglect. However, those younger than four are at a higher risk for serious injury or death from abuse or neglect.

What are the results of child abuse?

Short-term effects of child abuse can include physical injuries, such as cuts, bruises, burns, and broken bones.

Long-term results can include lifelong physical disabilities. Problems can include trouble with eyesight, movement, mental processes, emotional disorders (anxiety or depression), risk-taking behaviors later in life, and trouble with relationships.

What are some factors that could increase the risk for child abuse?

Some risk factors include:

  • Parental history of child abuse: Many behaviors are learned during childhood. Parents who were abused as children are more likely to abuse their own children.
  • Parental stress: Raising a child can be very difficult, and it is normal to become stressed or frustrated sometimes. Additional pressure such as money trouble, problems in personal relationships, or raising a child with a disability can increase a parent's risk for committing abuse.
  • Lack of social or community support: Families that do not have nearby friends or relatives may be at risk, as well as those who live in an area without supportive services.

What can I do if I am feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenting?

You can always call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) to get support and find out about resources in your area.

What are signs that a child may be abused or neglected?

  • Unexplained injuries, such as cuts, bruises, or welts. All children get hurt sometimes, but pay special attention to injuries that do not make sense considering the age of the child, appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt, or a series of severe injuries.
  • A child suffering from abuse may show signs through his or her behavior, such as acting frightened, shying away from touch, or seeming afraid to go home.
  • A child may wear heavy, long sleeved shirts and pants even on hot days (to hide cuts and bruises on the body).
  • Abusive caregivers may show anger management issues or a strong need for control. Their explanation for the injury may not make sense, or may be different from another family member's explanation.

Who should I call if I think a child is suffering from abuse or neglect?

  • New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Hotline: 1-800-342-3720
  • New York State Abandoned Infant Hotline: 1-866-505-7233

Where can I find out more about child abuse and neglect?

Reports on child abuse

  • World Health Organization, World report on violence and health, 2002