Terms You Should Know About Child Abuse

Child with teddy bear

Child abuse:

A complex and dangerous set of problems that include child neglect and the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children.

Emotional child abuse:

Also known as verbal child abuse, the third most frequently reported form of child abuse (after child neglect and physical child abuse), accounting for more than 10% of all cases of child abuse.


Sexual activity between individuals so closely related that marriage is prohibited. Incest involving a child is a form of child abuse.

Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy:

Where a parent causes a child to become ill and rushes the child to the hospital or convinces doctors that the child is sick. It’s a way for the parent to gain attention and sympathy, and its dangers to the child constitute child abuse.


The most frequently reported form of child abuse (78% of all cases) and the most lethal, it is the failure to provide for the shelter, safety, supervision and nutritional needs of the child. Child neglect may be physical, like not seeking health care or expelling a child from their home, educational, meaning not enrolling a school-age child in school, or emotional neglect, such as ignoring the child, not providing necessary psychological care, spouse abuse in the child’s presence, etc.

Physical child abuse:

Next to child neglect, the second most frequently reported form of child abuse, accounting for 17.8% of all cases of child abuse.


Forced sexual intercourse; sexual assault; sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor. Rape may be heterosexual (involving members of opposite sexes) or homosexual (involving members of the same sex).

Sexual child abuse:

Comprises four basic types of mistreatment: child neglect, physical abuse of a child, emotional abuse of a child, and sexual abuse of a child.

Shaken Baby Syndrome:

Injuries, particularly to the head, caused by violently shaking an infant. It is the most common cause of infant death from head injuries and one of the most serious kinds of child abuse. The syndrome also goes by other names such as shaking impact syndrome.

Medical Dictionary