New York State Children's Alliance, Inc.

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Be The One

Child abuse can take place anywhere – at home, school, public places – wherever a child goes or interacts with others.  It can cause long-lasting scars on the body of a child, as well as on their mind.  Some signs aren’t obvious, or visible.  The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning the facts and how to recognize the signs.


  • One in ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th
  • Almost 700,000 children are abused in the United States annually.
  • In over 90% of child abuse situations, the child knows their abuser, often someone they love and trust.
  • Only 4-8% of child abuse reports are fabricated.

Forms of Child Abuse:

Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is broadly defined as any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child.

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse occurs when an adult or another child asks or pressures a child for sexual contact. The abuser may use physical abuse, bribery, threats, tricks, or take advantage of the child’s limited knowledge of sexual matters. Sexual abuse can also include taking photos of the child, or showing them pornography through pictures, magazines, movies, online, etc.

Emotional Abuse
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. In addition, children who witness domestic violence or who live with a sex offender in their homes can fall under the umbrella of emotional abuse.

Neglect & Maltreatment
The failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. This can be in the form of physical, medical, education and emotional neglect.

Child Trafficking / Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
A commercially sexually exploited child is one under the age of 18 who engages, agrees to engage in, or offers to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money, clothing, food, shelter, education, goods, or care. Exploited youth are not “child prostitutes,” they are child victims.

Shaken Baby Syndrome
Infants, babies or small children who suffer injuries or death from severe shaking, jerking, pushing, or pulling may have been victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The act of shaking a baby is considered physical abuse, as spinal, head and neck injuries often result from violently shaking young children.


Caregivers can lay the foundation for protection with their children by having age-appropriate conversations with them about their bodies and boundaries. Here are some important prevention tips:

Answer questions openly and honestly.
Answering questions casually and comfortably with young children paves the way for the tougher conversations down the road. Treat them with respect and meet them at their level. When talking to kids, always use proper names for body parts.

Use teachable moments to help kids understand how to apply protective knowledge.
With young children, you can use events such as bath and pool time to explain the concept of private parts. Kids may have a difficult time understanding what exactly is a “private part,” but they can easily understand that it is anything covered by a bathing suit. As children get older, they may express interest in what they see in TV/media or the experiences of friends or acquaintances. Don’t be afraid to talk about these topics – it will help your children feel comfortable if they ever need to come to you for help.

Model respect for physical boundaries.
Examples include never forcing kids to hug or sit on anyone’s lap. Teach them that affection should be freely given, and that it’s okay to speak up if they want a physical interaction (like tickling or wrestling) to stop.

Understand how to Be a Safe Adult and communicate that with your kids.
Tell your kids again and again that they can come to you if a situation or person makes them feel uncomfortable or uncertain. Let them know that you will help them decide how to handle the situation, you will not be mad at them, and you will always believe and support them. Keep these conversations going – by talking to them now, you are protecting them later. 

Download a 5 Safe Adults Pinwheel Sheet HERE.


Children start to heal the moment they are heard. Are you listening?

Here are 5 easy steps to consider:

  • Get ready to listen: If your child is telling you something, stop what you’re doing, if you can, so that you are really paying attention.
  • Quiet your mind. Think of this as the mental version of closing your laptop.  Remind yourself to pay attention.
  • Repeat back what you heard if you’re not sure you heard it correctly.

Tune in all the way. That means listening with your ears, but also with your eyes, your brain, and your heart.


 Are you asking yourself:

  • “What if I’m wrong?"
  • “What if I can make sure the abuse stops?"
  • “What if this isn’t really abuse?"

Have you noticed this type of behavior by the child?

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Problems at school or with peers
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Returning to bedwetting, thumb sucking, etc.
  • Fear of a certain person
  • Skipping school, running away, or acting out
  • Attempting suicide
  • Writing or artwork that’s strangely sexual
  • Excessive sexual curiosity, masturbation, or promiscuity
  • Seductive behavior toward adults or peers

Have you noticed these physical signs on the child?

  • Unexplained headaches, stomach aches, vomiting, fainting or blackouts
  • Bedwetting or soiling
  • Loss or gain of appetite and/or weight
  • Injury, itching, pain or soreness in genital or anal area
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothes
  • Sexually transmitted disease or vaginal discharge
  • Pregnancy

Have you seen this behavior in adults near the child?

  • Refusal to let child set limits
  • Insisting on hugs, touching, kissing, tickling, etc. even when child resists
  • Overly interested in child’s physical or sexual development
  • Insisting on uninterrupted time alone with child
  • Spending most of spare time with children rather than peers
  • Buying children expensive items or gives money for no reason
  • Frequently walking in on child in the bathroom
  • Allowing child to get away with inappropriate behavior 

Any person who reasonably suspects that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect should report their suspicion
to the police or the New York State Child Abuse Hotline.  You may remain anonymous.  

New York State Child Abuse Hotline

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call local law enforcement or 911.

Immediate danger includes:  

  • A threat of imminent harm or violence to a child  

  • The perpetrator of abuse lives in the same home as the child  

  • A child has an injury requiring immediate medical attention  

  • A child is contemplating self-harm, suicide, or harming another person

The New York State Children’s Alliance, Inc. (NYSCA) is a non-profit organization committed to supporting 47 member Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) throughout New York state. NYSCA works to promote the development, growth, and continuation of these Centers 
to provide healing services and justice to over 21,000 abused and neglected children and their families each year.

Your financial support helps NYSCA improve the community response to abuse and neglect by delivering the expertise and resources needed.  NYSCA provides programs & training, technical assistance, funding opportunities, prevention education & awareness, and community outreach to over 1,000 multidisciplinary team members.

There are many ways you can support NYSCA

  •  You can donate online with your credit card information HERE.
  •  You can make a one-time donation to NYSCA or set up a recurring monthly donation.
  •  You can donate by mailing a check to: 
        New York State Children’s Alliance, Inc.
        7954 Transit Road, #244
        Williamsville, NY 14221

Become a member of our Champions for Children. The Champions for Children Giving Program recognizes individuals,
corporate champions, and foundations who contribute a minimum of $1,000 over the course of one fiscal year.

Thank you for making a difference for hurting children and their families.


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