Learn About Child Abuse

Types of Abuse

The Virginia Administrative Code establishes five categories of abuse or neglect, including physical abuse, physical neglect, medical neglect, mental abuse or neglect, and sexual abuse.

PHYSICAL ABUSE occurs when a caretaker creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted upon a child a physical injury by other than accidental means or creates a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or impairment of bodily functions.

PHYSICAL NEGLECT occurs when there is the failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, or supervision for a child to the extent that the child’s health or safety is endangered. This also includes abandonment and situations where the parent or caretaker’s own incapacitating behavior or absence prevents or severely limits the performing of child caring tasks.

MEDICAL NEGLECT occurs when there is the failure by the caretaker to obtain and or follow through with a complete regimen of medical, mental or dental care for a condition which if untreated could result in illness or developmental delays.

MENTAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT occurs when a caretaker creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted upon such child a mental injury by other than accidental means or creates a substantial risk of impairment of mental functions.

SEXUAL ABUSE occurs when there is any act of sexual exploitation or any sexual act upon a child in violation of the law which is committed or allowed to be committed by the child’s parents or other persons responsible for the care of the child.

Source VDSS Division of Family Services

Signs & Symptoms of Abuse

  1. Unexplained injuries. Unexplained burns or bruises.
  2. Changes in behavior. The child may appear scared, anxious, withdrawn, or aggressive.
  3. Returning to earlier behaviors. Such as thumb-sucking, bed wetting, or fear.
  4. Fear of going home. Anxiety about leaving school or going with the person who is abusing them.
  5. Changes in eating. The stress, fear, and anxiety can lead to affect eating habits.
  6. Changes in sleeping habits. Children may have nightmares or difficulty sleeping and appear tired.
  7. Changes in school performance and attendance. Difficulty concentrating or excessive absences.
  8. Lack of personal care or hygiene. May appear uncared for, dirty, or neglected.
  9. Risk-taking behaviors. May engage in high-risk activities like drugs and alcohol.
  10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. May exhibit inappropriate sexualized behavior.

Myths

Myth #1

Stranger… Danger! Children are victimized by psychopathic strangers.

90%

of victims are abused by someone they know and trust.

Sex offenders carefully select and groom their targeted victims, and often create a plan to get a particular child alone. They want to obtain a child’s friendship or trust – and sometimes the parent’s friendship and trust as well. This makes the child more vulnerable.

Myth #2

Sexual abuse is a socioeconomic and cultural problem.

Sexual abuse crosses all socioeconomic, neighborhood, race and class barriers. Small and large families, in cities and in rural areas, wealthy and lower income, and in homes, schools, churches and businesses.

Myth #3

Sexual abuse is rare.

1 In 4 Girls / 1 In 7 Boys

are sexually abused.

It is one of the most prevalent health problems children face with the most serious array of consequences.

Myth #4

Children usually tell someone they are abused.

Only 30%

of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused.

Most children delay or never disclose child sexual abuse to friends, family, or the authorities.

Myth #5

Adults have higher rates of sexual assaults than children.

Nearly 70%

of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.

Children are victimized at a much higher rate. In 2000, the rate for youths aged 12 to 17 was 2-3 times higher than for adults.

Myth #6

Most sexually abused victims become healthy adults.

50%

of sexually abused children suffer trauma severe enough to negatively impact their lives.

3x

more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

2x

more likely to drop out of school.

Myth #7

Many children lie about being abused.

<5%

of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused.