Child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems that can have long-term impact on health, opportunity, and wellbeing. CDC works to understand the problems of child abuse and neglect and prevent them.
Fast Facts: Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect
Child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). They can have long-term impacts on health, opportunity, and wellbeing. This issue includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as a religious leader, a coach, a teacher) that results in harm, the potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. There are four common types of abuse and neglect:
- Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that can result in physical injury. Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
- Sexual abuse involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities. Please see CDC’s Preventing Child Sexual Abuse webpage for more information.
- Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name-calling, shaming, rejecting, withholding love, and threatening.
- Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, access to medical care, and having feelings validated and appropriately responded to.
For more information about preventing child abuse and neglect definitions please see Child Maltreatment Surveillance: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements