Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect is any harm to a child that is not an accident. Child abuse and neglect is also called child maltreatment.

Child abuse and neglect takes many forms.

  • Neglect is when parents or caregivers fail to ensure a child's health and well-being. Neglect may result from not providing a child with appropriate shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care, or protection from hazards. A variety of short-term and long-term problems result, such as developmental delays and failure to thrive.
  • Physical abuse causes bodily injuries, such as bruises, burns, fractures, cuts, punctures, or organ damage.
  • Emotional (psychological) abuse is a repeated pattern of intentional verbal or behavioural actions or lack of actions toward a child that give the message that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value to meet someone else's needs. Withholding emotional support, isolating, or terrorizing a child are forms of emotional abuse. Intimate partner (domestic) violence that is witnessed by a child is also considered a form of emotional abuse.
  • Sexual abuse is any act with a child that is intended to sexually gratify an older child or adult. It includes any sexual activity that a child does not comprehend or consent to, or that is against the law. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposing a child to pornography are also types of sexual abuse.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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