Child abuse has a lasting impact on its victims. One-third of victims will later abuse their own children. Nearly two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused as children. Nearly 40 percent of all women in prison and 14 percent of all men in prison were abused as children. Sexually abused children are more than twice as likely to abuse alcohol and are four times more likely to become addicted to drugs. Female victims are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
Physical abuse occurs when a caretaker allows or inflicts non-accidental physical injury that causes a substantial risk to the child's physical well-being and health. Physical injuries may include burns, bruises, welts, broken bones or internal injuries. Signs of physical abuse include nightmares, obvious attempts to hide bruises or injuries, excessive school absenteeism, and excessive fear of parents or caretakers.
Psychological abuse is a pattern of behavior that retards a child's development and sense of self-worth by conveying to the child that they are worthless, flawed, unloved, or unwanted. Psychological abuse may include insults, constant criticism, harsh demands, threats, and yelling. Children who are victims of psychological abuse may develop dramatic behavioral changes, such as defiance, aggressiveness, and compulsively seeking attention or affection. They may also lag in physical development, display a lack of self confidence, or behave in an inappropriately adult-like or infantile manner.
Neglect is the leading form of child abuse in the United States and occurs when a caretaker fails to provide for a child's basic needs, which include adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care or safekeeping. As a result of such treatment, the child's physical, mental, or emotional development is impaired. Indicators of neglect include being underweight, poor hygiene, low academic achievement, and a constant lack of supervision.
Child sexual abuse refers to any sexual contact or interaction between a child and an adult. It includes a wide range of behavior, including but not limited to exposure to pornography, genital exposure, intimate touching, fondling, or penetration, masturbation of child or adult, and sexual exploitation. Young people are at the highest risk of sexual abuse, according to a Department of Justice study. Of those who report to police, 29 percent of rape victims are between 12 and 17, and another 15 percent are under 12. Signs that a child may have been sexually abused include extreme changes in behavior, depression and withdrawal, recurrent nightmares, regression to infantile behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking, age-inappropriate interest in sexual matters, sudden fear of a particular person, frequent genital infections, excessive masturbation, self-mutilation such as cutting or burning, sexually transmitted disease, extreme clinging behavior, and use of sexual terms or new names for body parts.
In Kentucky, a child is reported as a victim of abuse or neglect every 8.5 minutes. Not all children will demonstrate observable changes in their behavior and actions. To report child abuse, contact your local Department for Community Based Services or the statewide 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 752-6200.