Child Abuse

Child Abuse Summary
Child abuse falls into four categories: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. There are certain risk factors that predispose a child to being abused and an adult to abusing a child. Risk factors for children are age, children with learning disabilities, adopted and foster children, children with congenital abnormalities, and a past history of abuse. Parental risk factors include young or single parents, those who suffered abuse themselves, adults with substance-abuse problems or psychiatric disease, and those who didn't graduate from high school.
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Child abuse facts

  • Child abuse is a serious national problem involving all economic, ethnic, racial, and religious groups.
  • Children are abused predominantly by parents, but other caregivers (babysitter) are not infrequent offenders.
  • The major types of child abuse are physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. Child neglect is the most frequent type of child abuse and the most lethal.
  • If any suspicion of child abuse or neglect exists, a report should be filed with the appropriate agency. Good-faith reports are immune from prosecution. A local system for timely investigation and evaluation should be incorporated in all cases of child maltreatment.
  • Prevention (education and counseling) is the best approach for the management of child abuse and neglect.

It was not until the 19th century that children were granted the same legal status as domesticated animals with regard to protection against cruelty and/or neglect. In 1962, the term "battered child syndrome" became part of the medical vocabulary, and by 1976, all of the states in the United States had adopted laws mandating the reporting of suspected child abuse.

What is the scope of the child abuse problem?

Child abuse is a worldwide problem affecting children from birth to 18 years of age. In 2011, 3.4 million reports of abuse and neglect were filed in the U.S. About 60% of these reports warranted investigation with one-half of these allegations substantiated. Translated into concrete numbers -- 687,820 children were documented as abused in 2011. These data indicate the incidence of child abuse and neglect to be 27.4 per 1,000 children; 1,570 children (four children/day) died in 2011 as a result of inflicted trauma with more than 81% of these deaths in children less than 4 years of age.

While reports of alleged child abuse are not always substantiated during the investigation process, most authorities believe that a large underreporting bias is inherent in the data. There is much more child abuse than gets reported.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/17/2013

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