What is child abuse?

Child abuse is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as any recent act or failure to act on that results in a child’s serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, exploitation or death. An act or failure to act that presents a risk of serious harm to a child is also considered to be child abuse.1

Child abuse is most commonly perpetrated by someone known to the child. He or she can be a caregiver, relative, family friend or any adult in a position of authority over the child. Abusers can also be strangers to the family and child. Although the government definition refers specifically to abuse enacted by parents and caregivers, any adult or older child can perpetrate abuse during a child’s youth. Peer-against-peer abuse can result in equally as serious emotional, physical and mental effects. 


Child abuse is seldom a single event. Rather, it occurs with regularity, often increasing in violence. It crosses all boundaries of income, race, ethnicity, and religious faith. A child abuser is usually closely related to the child, such as a parent, step-parent or other caregiver.


In homes where child abuse occurs, fear, instability and confusion replace the love, comfort and nurturing that children need. Abused children live in constant fear of physical harm from a person who is supposed to care for and protect them. They may feel guilt at loving the abuser or blame themselves for causing the violence.

Each state provides its own definitions of child abuse within civil and criminal statutes, but they are informed by the following definitions of various forms of child abuse:



What is neglect?

Child neglect is the leading form of child abuse in the United States and occurs when a caretaker fails to provide for a child's basic needs, which include adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, supervision medical care or safekeeping. As a result of such treatment, the child's physical, mental, or emotional development can be impaired.2   READ MORE

What is Sex Trafficking?

Sexual trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).  It is an egregious human rights, public health, and criminal justice violation that occurs every day across the U.S.  CSEC is often viewed as “different” from child sexual abuse. Few consider the two to be the same problem. However, CSEC is actually one form of child sexual abuse.  READ MORE

What are the Signs of Abuse?

Some signs of child abuse are more obvious than others.   READ MORE

What is the Economic Impact?

The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States is estimated at $585 billion.3  Why?  READ MORE

What are the Stats?

Statistics for the Nation, Georgia and for Henry County...CLICK HERE

1United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, “Child Abuse,” Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2010, (2010), N.p.

2 Child Welfare Information Gateway via rainn.org, "What is Child Abuse and Neglect?" Factsheets, (2008), www.childwelfare.gov.

3Fang, X., et al. The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect (2012), doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.10.006 Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213411003140