What is it?

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Child Abuse: What is it?

Child abuse means different things to different people.  One way to think about child abuse is the way that state law or Child Protective Services (CPS) defines it. Most states, including Arizona, define child abuse as: “When a parent, guardian, or custodian inflicts or allows the infliction of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment.”

Physical abuse includes non-accidental physical injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns, cuts or other injuries.

Sexual abuse occurs when sex acts are performed with children. Using children in pornography, prostitution or other types of sexual activity is also sexual abuse.

Neglect occurs when children are not given necessary care for illness or injury. Neglect also includes leaving young children unsupervised or alone, locked in or out of the house, or without adequate clothing, food, or shelter.  Allowing children to live in a very dirty house which could be a health hazard may also be considered neglect.

Emotional abuse of a child is evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or improper aggressive behavior as diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist, and caused by the acts or omissions of the parent or caretaker.

Exploitation means use of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian for material gain.

Abandonment means the failure of the parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the child, including providing normal supervision, when such failure is intentional and continues for an indefinite period.

For more information on Arizona law (A.R.S. §8-201(2)) related to child abuse see the following link  https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=154&id=2016

Another way to think about child abuse is the different actions that can be harmful to children regardless of who does them, or the failure to do things for children to keep them safe and healthy. In addition to the types of abuse included in state law, harsh discipline, bullying, failure to provide love and guidance, and living in a household where violence is common and children hear or see violence even when it is not directed at them can also be considered abusive.

Those who experience abuse in childhood are much more likely to develop unhealthy behaviors and health problems throughout their lifetime. Voices for Safety is concerned with helping parents, caretakers, and teachers to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote safety for all children. All children deserve to be safe.

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