Child abuse is harm done to a child through a physical, emotional, or sexual act, or by neglect or abandonment.
Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
Some common signs of abuse or neglect of a child include:
- Unexplained bruises
- Overly passive or overly aggressive behavior
- Staying away from or being afraid to go home
- Lacking clean or appropriate clothes, food, or other basic necessities
Signs that a parent may be abusing or neglecting their child include:
- Indifference or apathy
- Berating, shaming, blaming, or rejection
- Relying on the child for the parent's own emotional needs
- Conflicting or unconvincing explanations of a child's physical injuries
Report Suspected Child Abuse
If an abusive event is in progress or you know or suspect someone abused, neglected, or exploited a child, call 911.
You may also:
- Contact your local child protective agency. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or if you are a child who is being maltreated, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so professionals can assess the situation.
- Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) if you suspect abuse, are a child abuse victim, or are a parent who needs help. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and operates in the United States, its territories, and Canada.
There are also a number of other resources available with information on how to handle a suspected child abuse and/or neglect situation:
- The Child Welfare Information Gateway has information on how to protect a child’s safety, support families, prevent child maltreatment, and report suspected abuse and neglect.
- The National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence has compiled contact information by state for reporting child abuse.
- Each state controls and operates its own child protective services. Visit your state’s health and human resources website for more information.