In order to meet your responsibility of reporting abuse or neglect, you may be asking, “What does child abuse and neglect look like?”

The definitions of these four categories, including a brief summary of indicators to explain the definition, are listed below. Please keep in mind, none of the indicators alone are definitive of child abuse. It is necessary to look at the family’s total functioning to determine if safety concerns exist within the family unit.

It is important to note, for purposes of this training, the terminology “parent, guardian, or custodian” is used in defining the four categories. Mandatory reporters are required to report any child abuse or neglect, no matter what relationship the person has with the child. For example, say a school teacher suspects a local community soccer coach is using physical punishment with the child participants. The coach is not a parent, guardian, or custodian to the child; however, the mandatory reporter is required to report.

  1. Physical Abuse

    Physical abuse refers to an action of the parent, guardian or custodian that is non-accidental and results in physical injuries, often occurring in the name of discipline or punishment.

    Bruises and Welts
    Lacerations or Abrasions
    Behavioral Indicators
    Examples of physical abuse could include, but are not limited to:
  2. Physical Neglect

    Physical neglect occurs when a parent, guardian or custodian fails to provide for a child’s basic needs, like food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care or supervision and abandonment. The failure to meet basic needs must represent a threat to the child’s immediate health and safety or an impending danger if there is a pattern or history of the child’s needs not being met.

    Physical Indicators
  3. Emotional Maltreatment

    Emotional maltreatment occurs when a parent, guardian or custodian fails to provide the emotional nurturing needed for a child’s psychological growth and development, or willfully denies the child the emotional stability necessary for proper psychological growth and development. Emotional maltreatment results in an observable or measurable impairment of the child.

    Physical Indicators
    Examples of emotional maltreatment could include, but are not limited to:
  4. Sexual Abuse

    Sexual abuse and exploitation occurs when a parent, guardian or custodian commits, or allows contacts or interactions between a child and adult, where the child is used for the sexual stimulation of the parent, guardian, caretaker, or other responsible person. Sexual abuse may also be committed by a person under the age of 18, when that person is significantly older than the victim, or in a position of power and control over the child.

    Physical Indicators
    Behavioral Indicators
    Human Trafficking

    There are two types of human trafficking.

    The presence of the indicators noted below does not definitively mean the child is a trafficking victim. These indicators serve as clues to be assessed within the broader context of all information presented. Look for the possible sex trafficking indicators and red flags noted below:

    Behavioral Indicators
    Examples of sexual abuse could include, but are not limited to: