DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Any intentional harm or mistreatment to a child under 18 years old is considered child abuse. Child abuse takes many forms, which often occur at the same time.
- Physical abuse. Physical child abuse occurs when a child is purposefully physically injured.
- Sexual abuse. Sexual child abuse is any sexual activity with a child, such as fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse or exposure to child pornography.
- Emotional abuse. Emotional child abuse means injuring a child's self-esteem or emotional well-being. It includes verbal and emotional assault — such as continually belittling or berating a child — as well as isolating, ignoring or rejecting a child.
- Neglect. Child neglect is failure to provide adequate food, shelter, affection, supervision, education or medical care.
Most child abuse is inflicted by someone the child knows and trusts, often a parent or other relative. If you suspect child abuse, report the abuse to the proper authorities.
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