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What is Child Abuse?

What is Child Abuse and Neglect?

Each state provides its own definitions of child abuse and neglect based on minimum standards set by Federal law. This factsheet explains how child maltreatment is defined in the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. Operational definitions of physical abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse are also included, as are tips on what you can do as an individual to raise awareness and make a difference. This is a good starting point to find answers to questions regarding child abuse, its causes, and appropriate preventions.
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Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

The best way to prevent child abuse is to help parents develop the skills and identify the resources they need to understand and meet their children’s needs and protect them from harm. This factsheet describes common activities of prevention programs, keys to successful prevention services, and protective factors that increase the health and well-being of children and families. It also lists simple things everyone can do to support families in raising safe and healthy children.
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Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms

The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. This factsheet lists general signs that may signal the presence of child abuse. It also includes signs associated with specific types of maltreatment such as physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment.
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Long Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

The harmful effects of child abuse and neglect vary depending on a number of factors, including the circumstances, personal characteristics of the child, and the child’s environment. In many cases, child abuse and neglect have consequences for children, families, and society that last lifetimes. This factsheet provides an overview of some of the most common physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect, including findings from research supported by the Federal Government.
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Leaving Your Child Home Alone

Every parent eventually faces the decision to leave their child home alone for the first time. This factsheet provides some questions for parents to consider before leaving their children home alone, as well as tips to help make the experience safe and successful for all.
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Child Abuse and Neglect- General Information Packet

This information packet includes fact sheets about child maltreatment and the services available from the Child Welfare Information Gateway. The fact sheets review the definitions of maltreatment, child abuse and neglect prevention, and provide statistical information about the prevalence of child abuse and neglect and the characteristics of victims and offenders. Directories of federal clearinghouses, hotlines, state agencies, and other organizations that disseminate information about family and domestic violence and substance abuse are also inserted.
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Additional Resources on the Child Welfare Information Gateway Website: