New York State Children's Alliance, Inc.

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About Child Abuse

What is Child Abuse

Child abuse is any act, or failure to act, that results in intentional harm or mistreatment to a child under the age of 18. There are different forms of child abuse, some of which may occur at the same time.

Physical abuse is a nonaccidental physical injury to a child, which may include punching, kicking, beating, burning, biting, chocking, hitting (with an object such as a stick or belt), shaking, throwing, or something by which a child is caused physical harm. Injuries from physical abuse may be minor such as cuts and bruises, to death.

Neglect is the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs including adequate food and shelter, medical and mental health treatment, or failure to educate a child.

Sexual abuse of a child includes both touching and non-touching behaviors. Non-touching behaviors may include exposure, voyeurism, or showing a child pornographic images.

Emotional abuse is when a child’s self-esteem or emotional well-being is damaged. This may be done by emotional and verbal attacks, such as name calling or belittling a child, as well as isolating or rejecting a child.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child involves a series of crimes involving sexual abuse or exploitation of a child for the financial benefit of another individual, or in exchange for something of value (including monetary and non-monetary benefits).

Learn the Facts

  • Almost 700,000 children are abused in the United States annually
  • In 2019, New York State Child Advocacy Centers investigated over 23,400 child abuse cases
  • Experts estimate 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday
  • In over 90% of child abuse situations a child knows their abuser. It is often someone they love and trust
  • Only 4-8% of child abuse reports are fabricated
  • In situations of child sexual abuse, 20% are abused before the age of 8

Signs of Child Abuse

Below are some indicators of child abuse. It is important to note that a child displaying these behaviors may not have been abused, and not all children who have been abused may show any signs.

Indicators of Physical Abuse

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries, such as burns, broken bones, or black eyes
  • Apprehensive to leave with a caregiver, when they have not displayed this behavior before

Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • Has difficulty walking or sitting
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Sexual knowledge beyond their age
  • Nightmares or bedwetting
  • Injury to genital area

Indicators of Neglect

  • Malnourishment or fatigue
  • Poor hygiene, dirty clothes
  • Frequent absence from school
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
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