There are four major types of child maltreatment:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
Although any of the forms may be found separately, they often occur together. Most child abuse occurs in the family home. Parents, siblings and visitors can all inflict abuse.
In South Carolina, child abuse and neglect are defined as:
Neglect is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. It may be:
- Physical (e.g., lack of appropriate supervision or failure to provide necessary food, shelter, or medical care)
- Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
- Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs or exposure to domestic violence)
These situations do not always mean that a child is neglected. Sometimes cultural values, the standards of care in the community, and poverty may be contributing factors, indicating that the family needs information or assistance. When a family fails to use information and resources, and the child’s needs continue to be unmet, then further child welfare professional intervention may be required.
Physical Abuse is physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a a hand, stick, strap or other object), burning or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caretaker intended to hurt the child or not.
Sexual Abuse refers to any sexual act with a child by an adult or older child, such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
Emotional Abuse is any attitude, behavior, or failure to act that interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. This may include using verbally abusive language to constantly criticize or denigrate, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance.
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