Child Abuse and Child Neglect are defined by both Federal and State law. One Federal law/legislation known as The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) provides a minimum standards that each State’s statutory Child Abuse Definition must comply with. CAPTA designates the minimum definition of Child Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse as follows:
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.
The employment, use, Persuasion, Inducement, Enticement, or Coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any Sexually Explicit Conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or
The Rape, and in cases of caretaker or interfamilial relationships, Statutory Rape, Molestation, Prostitution, or other form of Sexual Exploitation of Children, or incest with children.
Each State definition of Child Abuse, Neglect, Maltreatment, etc. determines the basis for State intervention to ensure a child’s safety. Always read through your State’s definition of the varying Child Abuse Types. Consider some of the following Abuse Types recognized and defined by different States:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse / Exploitation
- Emotional Abuse
You can make a difference in the life of a child. The first step to help abused or neglected children is to learn to recognize Child AbuseSigns and Child Neglect Signs. Often time the tendency is to discover one Child Abuse Indicator or Child Neglect Indicator and then try to prove Child Abuse is occurring. A closer look as to whether or not Abuse is occurring should only be considered after the presence of a sign appears repeatedly or in combination with other signs.
- Parents show little or no concern for the child
- Parents ask caretakers/teachers to use cruel physical discipline
- Parents demand unreasonable performance from the child
- Sudden Child Behavior Changes
- Sudden school performance changes
- Learning problems with no physical or psychological causes
- Difficulty concentrating with no physical or psychological causes
- No adult supervision
- Extremely Passive Child
- Extremely Withdrawn Child
- Always watching for something bad to occur
- Child Avoids Going Home
State statutes differ on when a Child Abuse Report must be filed. Even though it is crucial to Report Child Abuse early, you should always keep notes on child behaviors, child bruises, and other suspicious Child Abuse Evidence. Personal, informal notes may be invaluable when filing a report or even providing additional information to the Child Protective Services Agency. Continue documenting events and signs that appear even after a report is filed. Well documented notes are sometimes the best evidence available to the Child Protective Services Agency. With all this in mind waiting for proof may involve severe risk for the child so always report the Suspected Abuse after you "suspect" or "have reasonable cause to believe" that Abuse or Neglect has occurred..