The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as: “at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” Abuse also includes use of any communication to humiliate or shame a child, causing emotional trauma. Although the incidence of child abuse and neglect has been decreasing in recent years, more than 1.25 million, or 1 in every 58 children in the United States, were abused in 2006 (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2007).
One of the most vulnerable of populations; children are often unable to voice when or how they are being abused. Some common signs of child abuse can include:
- Sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
- Parental failure to seek help for physical or medical problems
- Learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical of psychological causes
- Is always watchful, maybe fearful, as though preparing for something bad to happen.
- Lacks adult supervision.
- Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn.
- Early arrival, late departure to school or other activities, and does not want to go home.