Types Of Child Abuse

Updated: Apr 29

Here at The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center, our goal is to help prevent child abuse and to help victims of abuse and their families heal from their trauma. One of the things we do to further the goal of child abuse prevention is educate people on the different types of abuse and how to recognize them. In this article, we will cover the main forms that child abuse takes so that you will be better able to recognize when a child in your life may need help.


• Physical Abuse. The type of child abuse that most people think of first when they hear that term is physical abuse. This form of abuse involves deliberately causing physical harm or inflicting physical pain, such as by beating the child or using corporal punishment. Children who are physically abused may show bruises, burns, welts, or even fractures. Untreated medical needs are also a flag for this type of abuse.

• Mental or Emotional Abuse. Another type of child abuse is known as emotional or mental abuse. While some abusers hit their victims, those who inflict mental abuse use things like harsh words, put-downs, name-calling, and humiliation to control and intimidate their targets. Other forms of mental abuse include the silent treatment, shouting, and withholding affection.

• Sexual Abuse. A third type of child abuse is sexual in nature. Sexual abuse is characterized by fondling, forced sexual acts, indecent physical exposure, or any other method of using a child for the abuser’s sexual satisfaction. Signs that a child has been sexually abused include sudden difficulty with toilet habits (for young children); pain, itching, or bruising in the genital area; knowledge of sex or sexual behavior that is premature for the child’s age; and trouble sitting or walking.

• Neglect. The fourth type of child abuse, neglect, is often the hardest to spot, as it doesn’t involve active harm but instead a failure to meet the child’s basic needs. For example, neglectful caretakers may leave children alone for extended periods of time, fail to provide adequate food, or force a child to assume responsibilities that should be fulfilled by an adult, such as caring for a younger sibling.


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