Beyond this general definition, the CDC further explains two types of maltreatment:
1.) Acts of Commission (Child Abuse) – These are “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm.” While acts of commission are defined as being deliberate and intentional, harm to a child might not always be the desired motive or consequence. The intention of the act only applies to caregiver actions (those who are responsible for a child’s care), rather than the result, or consequence of those actions. For instance, a caregiver might purposefully hit a child as punishment, but may not intend to break the child’s arm.
There are three types of acts of commission as defined by the Children’s Bureau—
Physical abuse: Any beating, kicking, biting, stabbing, choking, burning, punching or otherwise harming a child to cause physical injury, such as cuts, bruises, broken bones, and even death
Sexual abuse: These include any fondling of a child’s genitals, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, penetration, incest, and exploitation through production of pornographic materials.
Psychological abuse: Also referred to as emotional abuse, this includes any behavior pattern that impairs a child’s sense of self worth or emotional development. This type of behavior can include, but is not limited to, constant criticism or threats.
2.) Acts of Omission (Child Neglect) – These acts are “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.” Similar to acts of commission, a caregiver may not always intend to cause harm or injury to the child.
Acts of omission can be broken down into the following:
Physical neglect of a child, or failure to provide necessary food or shelter.
Emotional neglect, or inattention, to a child’s emotional needs, withholding love, support, or guidance.
Medical and dental neglect, which is the failure to provide a child with adequate medical or mental health treatment*
Educational neglect of a child, which is the failure to provide a means of education, educate a child, or accommodate a child’s special education needs
Inadequate supervision, or the failure to properly protect a child from inflicting self-harm, permitting a child to abuse alcohol or other drugs, or abandonment of a child by failing to maintain contact with the child
Exposure to violent environments, which is related to a lack of supervision, is the act of placing a child in a setting where he or she may be at a high risk of physical, psychological, or sexual harm