The Definition of Child Abuse: This is the hardest page I have written.

Before we get into the definition of child abuse you need to know that when you are a registered child care provider, it is mandated that you become a Mandatory Child Abuse reporter. Therefore you will need know the definition of child abuse, what signs of physical child abuse and emotional child abuse look like when you are providing care for young children. Sometime, we are the only ones to help these children!


Parents that you provide care for need to know that you are a reporter and you want to be sure that you include a written policy in your child care business. Understand the HUGE difference between Child Discipline and abuse.

definition of child abuse certificate

I have to tell you, this is the hardest page for me to write. It sickens me to think of anyone hurting a child. I personally have witnessed physical child abuse and emotional child abuse...I worked in a preschool/daycare center that was a safe haven for children in protective custody. Inside the definition of child abuse you would see these little helpless and innocent babies full of bruises, black eyes, burns (and yes, we were informed of sexual abuse). You not only want to cry, but you want to take them home with you and save them from the horrors the awful monsters were doing to them.

The effects of child abuse are devastating for a child's emotional and physical well being. It needs to be stopped and it is your job, if you see the signs of physical child abuse or emotional child abuse or neglect, to report any suspicions. When you do report any suspected abuse, it is confidential and your name is not revealed. I encourage you, if you are not registered, to take the training as soon as possible so you will learn the definition of child abuse in your state. physical child abuse toddler with black eye Why???

Because physical child abuse and emotional child abuse can happen in ANY home. A family's background or money status does not matter.



What exactly is the definition of child abuse? There are four types that you should be aware of and they are: (These are for a child under the age of 18)

  • Physical Child abuse: burns, hitting (and spanking children), pinching, kicking, cutting, shaking, throwing or biting.

  • Sexual Abuse: When someone uses a child for their sexual gratification and they; fondle, rape, take pornographic photos, or sodomize.

  • Neglect: With holding food, supervision, medical attention, or clothing, lack of care.

  • Emotional Child Abuse: Always ignoring a child's needs and excessive ridiculing, criticizing, belittling, or blaming.

Here are some examples and descriptions to help you in the definition of child abuse in order to give you some valuable information about signs of physical abuse.

  • Welts and bruises... These are on the face, back, back of legs, or buttocks. Or unusual pattern that may indicate the use of a belt buckle or other object, clusters (repeated contact) and wounds in various stages of healing.

  • Burns... Have glove or donut-shaped marks possibly from immersion, cigarette or rope marks, dry burns that may indicate application to a hot surface.

  • Cuts or scrapes... especially on the face or genitalia

  • Broken bones... especially in different stages of healing

physical child abuse hitting a child


  • Pain... difficulty when they sit, walk or urinate

  • Vomiting... and have no signs of being ill or having the flu

  • Constantly hungry or show signs of unexplained weight loss- overly tired

  • Head Injures... have bruised or blackened eyes and or jaw, have bleeding under the scalp.

physical child abuse with a belt
  • Aggression... shows angry behavior, disruptive, and has poor peer relationships

  • Becomes withdrawn... won't participate in your activities, poor or no appetite, hugs self, won't let you changes their clothes or diapers.

  • Unhappiness... rarely smiles, will have a deep fear of adults, flinches when others are present, emotional reactions to unpleasantness, and excessive tantrums


  • Is frequently gone form your day care or late (parents habitually arrive early/late to drop off and/or pick up

  • Will act inappropriately for their age... As one who is considerably older or younger. They show an interest in sexual matters; will have delayed development/growth.

  • Do not have appropriate or sufficient clothing or hygiene

  • Will touch others in an inappropriate sexual way or will masturbate excessively

  • Will hurt themselves or others

If you witness any of these signs of physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, neglect or emotional child abuse you should suspect that the child could be in trouble.

Get to know the definition of child abuse because you must report your suspicions to your local DHS, or the Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services or the Division of Family and Children's Services.

THIS PHONE CALL MUST BE MADE! You do not have to prove it happened nor do you have to investigate. Your identity is protected and confidential, and you are immune from liability when you report in good faith.

I sincerely hope this is a situation that you NEVER have to experience; but if you do, it is your responsibility to take action for the child's sake.

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