Although it’s not always immediately apparent, child abuse is ugly in all its shapes and sizes. How is it defined? What are its signs and symptoms? How can community members recognize it?

Based on minimum standards outlined by Federal law, each state provides its own definitions of child abuse and neglect, but there are definite similarities. Most states include four major types of maltreatment within their own statutes: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has summarized each of these categories in the following Fact Sheet:

When a child experiences these types of maltreatment at the hands of a parent, guardian, relative, or other caregiver, it is addressed by Child Protective Services.  Please reference the information below to learn more about recognizing the signs and symptoms of child abuse: