The issue of Child Abuse

Discipline or Abuse?

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle rather than perpetuate it. By learning about common signs of abuse and what you can do to intervene, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.

  • Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children (a report can include multiple children).

  • In 2012, state agencies found an estimated 686,000 victims of child maltreatment.

  • More than 70% of the children who died as a result of child abuse or neglect were two years of age or younger. More than 80% were not yet old enough for kindergarten.


  • As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children.


  • 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.


  • 1 in 10 children suffer from child maltreatment. 1 in 16 children suffer from sexual abuse. Nearly 1 in 10 children are witnesses to family violence.


  • The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. Over 25% of abused children are under the age of three while over 45% of abused children are under the age of five.


  • Number of children in the United States who died because of abuse or neglect in 2012: 1,593 Of the number of children who died because of abuse or neglect… 70.3% were younger than three years of age, 44.4% were younger than one year of age.



  • Who reports child abuse? Reports that came from teachers, law enforcement or legal representatives, or social service providers: 60%(teachers 17%; law enforcement 17%; social service 11%).



  • Who is most likely to abuse or neglect children? Of child abuse cases in 2012, in over 80% of the cases the parent was the perpetrator.

Parental Discipline vs. Child Abuse

Discipline is a parental response to specific misbehavior. A child can expect that if he fails to meet expectations that he will be corrected. Child abuse is often unpredictable. Children who are abused often don't know what will set their parent off. The rules and consequences are not clear, and children do not know what will result in a physical assault. However, child abuse can take other forms beyond physical abuse. Parents can be emotionally or psychologically abusive through patterns of rejecting the child, humiliating the child, isolating the child or neglecting the child's basic needs. Some well-meaning parents have used severe forms of psychological abuse that are just as damaging as physical abuse.