Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child abuse, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. The effects of abuse affect each child differently. While the effects of abuse can be severe and long-lasting, children who have been abused or exposed to violence can and do go on to have healthy and productive childhoods and adult lives. Others can grow up experiencing insecurities, low self-esteem, and lack of development. Many abused children experience ongoing difficulties with trust, social withdrawal, trouble in school, and forming relationships (helpguide.org). Let’s start with physical abuse. Physical abuse is the second most common form of child maltreatment. Physical abuse of a child is when a parent or caregiver causes any non-accidental physical injury to a child. There are many signs of physical abuse. Physical abuse includes striking, kicking, burning, biting, hair pulling, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping or any other action that injures a child. Many times, physical abuse results from inappropriate or excessive physical discipline. A parent or caretaker in anger may be unaware of the magnitude of force with which he or she strikes the child. Even if the caregiver didn’t mean to cause injury, when the child is injured it is abuse (childhelp.org). Children who are physically abused can develop child traumatic stress. They are also at risk for depression and anxiety. Children can be loud, unruly and destructive. They will break things, interrupt telephone conversations, track mud through the house, not pick up their toys or clean their rooms, struggle over eating their vegetables or pester routinely. Children will inevitably do things that may make their parents feel irritated, frustrated, disappointed and angry. Changing a child’s behavior is not easy and the result for violence is uncalled for. It is better to deny children privileges when they do something unacceptable, as well as reward them when they do something good. This teaches children that there are consequences for their actions. Child abuse is a symptom of having difficulty coping with stressful situations. If you feel you are losing control, ask someone to relieve you for a few minutes (childhelp.org). Next, we have sexual abuse. Sexual abuse occurs when an adult uses a child for sexual purposes or involves a child in sexual acts. It also includes when a child who is older or more powerful uses another child for sexual gratification or excitement. 20.7% of adults report being sexually abused as a child. Sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and creates a loss of trust, feelings of guilt and self-abusive behavior. It can lead to antisocial behavior, depression, identity confusion, loss of self-esteem and other serious emotional problems. It can also lead to difficulty with intimate relationships later in life (americanhumane.org). Sometimes the child may be so traumatized by sexual abuse that years pass before he or she is able to understand or talk about what happened. In some cases, adult survivors of sexual abuse may come forward for the first time in their 40s or 50s and reveal the horror of their experiences. Sexual abuse can happen to boys or girls of any race, ethnicity, or economic background. Sexual abuse is not a child’s fault. The only person responsible for this kind of behavior is the abuser. People who sexually abuse children usually know the victims before making sexual contact. Abusers can be anyone, even someone the victim used to look up to, like, or trust, such as a neighbor, babysitter, friend, or member of the family or household. Most of the time, because abusers are often older, bigger, or more powerful than the victims, children are afraid of what will happen if they don’t cooperate with the abuse or if they tell someone. Sometimes abusers will threaten or hurt victims in other ways to make them do what they want (victimsofcrime.org). Then, there’s emotional abuse. It’s sometimes called psychological abuse and can seriously damage a child’s emotional health and development. When a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental and social development, or causes severe emotional harm, it is considered emotional abuse. While a single incident may be abuse, most often, emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that causes damage over time. Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child or isolating or ignoring them. Emotional abuse can, and does, happen in all types of families, regardless of their background. Most parents want the best for their children. However, some parents may emotionally and psychologically harm their children because of stress, poor parenting skills, social isolation, lack of available resources or inappropriate expectations of their children. They may emotionally abuse their children because the parents or caregivers were emotionally abused themselves as children (americanhumane.org). Most emotional abuse occurs for many of the same reasons that physical abuse occurs. Parents are vulnerable to becoming involved in maltreatment if stresses in their lives build up or if they are unable to manage these stresses. Child emotional abuse is also linked to poor mental development and difficulty making and keeping strong relationships. It can lead to problems in school and at work, and to criminal behavior. They also have higher incident rates of alcohol and drug abuse. Children who are emotionally or physically abused and do not seek help can become abusers themselves as adults. To prevent emotional child abuse, parents and guardians need to be encouraged to develop strong attachments with their children and learn to express warmth and positive regard for them (americanhumane.org). Last but not least, there’s child neglect. Child neglect is when a parent or caregiver does not give the care, supervision, affection and support needed for a child’s health, safety and well-being. This includes physical neglect and inadequate supervision, emotional neglect, medical neglect and educational neglect. According to psychologytoday.com, more children suffer from neglect in the United States than from physical and sexual abuse combined. During 2005, 62.8 percent of victims experienced neglect, 16.6 percent were physically abused, 9.3 percent were sexually abused, 7.1 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated, and 2.0 percent were medically neglected. Children need enough care to be healthy and enough supervision to be safe. Adults that care for children must provide clothing, food, and drink. A child also needs safety, healthy shelter, and adequate supervision. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, neglect is usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate care and is readily observed by individuals in close contact with the child. Once children are in school, personnel often notice indicators of child neglect such as poor hygiene, poor weight gain, inadequate medical care, or frequent absences from school (psychologytoday.com). Child abuse is something that can be prevented in many ways. If you see a child being abused by anyone, whether it’s neglecting, sexually, physically, or emotionally, you should report it immediately to child protection services.