A Parent’s Guide 5
Physical abuse is the deliberate injury of a child by a
person responsible for the child’s care. Physical abuse
is often the result of unreasonable punishment, or
punishment that is too harsh for the child. Sometimes,
physical abuse is caused when caregivers react to
stress. Drinking and drug abuse by caregivers are often
contributing factors to physical abuse.
Physical abuse injuries can include bruises, broken
bones, burns, and abrasions. Children experience minor
injuries as a normal part of childhood, usually in places
such as the shins, knees, and elbows. When the injuries
are found in the soft-tissue areas on the abdomen or
back, or don’t seem to be typical childhood injuries, it is
possible that the child has been abused.
Emotional abuse is harder to recognize but is just as
harmful to the child as other forms of abuse. Emotional
abuse damages the child’s self-esteem and, in extreme
cases, can cause developmental problems and speech
disorders. A child suffers from emotional abuse when
constantly ridiculed, rejected, blamed, or compared
unfavorably with brothers, sisters, or other children.
Unrealistic expectations in academic or athletic
achievement are a common cause of emotional abuse by
parents or other adults. When a child can’t meet these
expectations, he feels that he is never quite good enough.
Emotional abuse is almost always present when other
forms of abuse are identiﬁed.
When an adult or older child uses his or her authority
to involve the child in sexual activity, it is child sexual
abuse, and that person is a child molester. The molester
might use tricks, bribes, pressure, threats, or force to
persuade the child to join in sexual activity. Sexual abuse
includes any activity performed for the sexual satisfaction
of the molester.