Recognizing Child Maltreatment/Child Abuse and Neglect

The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of Child Maltreatment:

“Child maltreatment, sometimes referred to as child abuse and neglect, includes all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation that results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity. Within this broad definition, five subtypes can be distinguished – physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect and negligent treatment; emotional abuse; and exploitation.”

The United States Federal Law definition of Child Abuse and Neglect:

“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

According to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), most States recognize the four major types of maltreatment: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

1. Physical abuse is nonaccidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who the family is in need of information or assistance.

2. Sexual abuse includes activities by a parent or caregiver such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

3. Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of selfworth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance.

4. Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be:

  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
  • Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)

The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect:

The Child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision

*To learn more about recognizing Child Maltreatment according to the World Health Organization and Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, in detail, please click on the links provided below.


Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). What is child abuse and neglect? Recognizing the signs and symptoms. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2016). Child Maltreatment (Factsheet No. 150). Retrieved from

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


Recommended Article: Life-Saving Technology


Violence against women and children is, unfortunately, a global issue that remains prevalent. However, individuals are using technology to combat sexual assault and harassment. The inspiring article below is an example of how one innovator is striving to stop violence committed against women one necklace at a time.


Margit, M. (2018, July 17). Don’t Panic: India Tackles Women’s Safety With Technology. The Media Line, Retrieved from 

Photo Credit: Kurious, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS



Recommended Article: Fathers & Services


The article provided below discusses the importance of a father’s involvement during pregnancy and the lack of early education parent programs specifically for fathers in the United States. The article raises awareness on this important issue, provides supporting data, and presents various programs addressing this need.


Lee, J. Y., & Lee, S. J. (2018, June 14). Fathers forgotten when it comes to services to help them be good parents, new study finds. The Conversation, Retrieved from

Photo Credit: melindarmacaronikidcom, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS



Recommended Article: Mom & Baby Bond


The following thought-provoking article discusses the issue of inmates raising their babies behind bars while completing their sentences. The growing debate about “The Moms and Babies” program revolves around its suitability. While the program provides a mom and baby bond, the issue of raising a baby in a prison environment may seem unhealthy.


Jouvenal, J. (2018, May 11). Raising babies behind bars. A bold experiment in parenting and punishment is allowing children in prison. But is that a good thing? Washington Post, Retrieved from

Photo Credit: ElasticComputeFarm, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


Recommended Article: The Catholic Church

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The Catholic Church has experienced tremendous scrutiny due to pedophilia. Ongoing media coverage of child abuse in the Catholic Church, in addition to sexual abuse survivors and their families telling their stories, has shed light on this issue. The following article presents steps that the Argentine Bishop is making to address the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church. However, family members of victims explain that these steps are not enough.


Rico (2018, April 17) Argentine Bishop’s New Law Orders Priests: ‘Hands Off Children’. QCostarica, Retrieved from

Photo Credit: Geralt, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


Recommended Literature: STOP FGM!


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is defined as “the partial or total removal of the female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” In many countries around the world, FGM remains a persistent practice. The “benefits” of this practice include, but not limited to: virginity (remaining “pure” before marriage) and reduce the urge to commit “illicit” sexual acts. Studies upon studies prove that FGM can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), death, infertility, and other long-term health complications. Despite research and programs aimed to end FGM; the practice of FGM continues. Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja is a must read. A true-life story of FGM and survival… a story I will never forget.

*Please get involved and support a program to end FGM.

 Do They Hear You When You Cry available on Amazon or your local library.

Photo Credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


Recommended Article: Child Poverty


Research proves that poverty has long-term effects on children well into adulthood. Limited or no access to adequate health coverage, educational inequality, and lack of resources are some of the many issues children living in poverty face worldwide. In the United States, data presented on children living in poverty, specifically children of color, is staggering. The article below provides recent data on child poverty in the U.S., the effects of child poverty into adulthood and a film: Poor Kids.

A link and citation to the article are below:

Boghani, P. (2017, November 22) How Poverty Can Follow Children Into Adulthood. FrontlinePBS, Retrieved from

Photo Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


Recommended Literature: Family Violence & Parental Alienation


Parental alienation, considered a form of emotional abuse, is the psychological manipulation of a child turning against the unwanted parent. Parental alienation usually occurs in cases of divorce or separation. Family violence, on the other hand, is often overlooked by professionals when a child is unwilling to live with or visit a parent in cases of separation or divorce. The literature below provides research on the importance of screening for family violence and finding the root cause of a child’s behavior rather than labeling a parent as ‘alienated.’

A link and citation to the literature are  below:

Saunders, D. G., & Faller, K. C. (2016). The need to carefully screen for family violence when parental alienation is claimed. Michigan Family Law Journal, 46, 7-11.

Photo Credit: Tumisu, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


Recommended Articles: Protected by the Law


December 2017

The act of disciplining children as a form of punishment is slowly but surely becoming an act of the past. Physical punishment, also known as spanking or corporal punishment, is banned in many countries around the world. For instance, passed in Peru, a Law “prohibits physical and humiliating punishment against children and adolescents in all the environments.” Hopefully, this movement will encourage leaders to enact laws that protect children worldwide.


The 51 countries that have banned corporal punishment (2016, November 21). UN Tribune, Retrieved from

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund: UNICEF congratulates Peru for approval of law that prohibits physical and humiliating punishment, UNICEF, Peru, December 2015. Retrieved from

Photo Credit: CQF-avocat, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS