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This article is about medical and legal aspects of child maltreatment. For details on psychological consequences of maltreatment, such as PTSD, see dedicatied article.

Overview and Definitions

Widely used definitions of child maltreatment are outlined in the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1996.

Child Protective Services (CPS) of each state follow these federal laws and guidelines. (?) Child neglect, generally defined by law as a significant omission in care by a parent or caregiver, which causes (the Harm Standard) or creates an imminent risk of (the Endangerment Standard) serious physical or mental harm to a child under 18 years of age. Child neglect is a criminal offense.

Child neglect includes, more specifically:

  • Physical neglect involves abandonment, lack of supervision, and failure to provide for a child’s basic needs of nutrition, clothing, hygiene, and safety.
  • Medical neglect is the failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment.
  • Emotional neglect include refusals or delays in psychological care; inadequate attentions to a child’s needs for affection, emotional support, attention, or competence; exposing the child to extreme domestic violence; and permitting a child’s maladaptive behaviors.
  • Educational neglect involves permitting chronic truancy, failure to enroll a child in mandatory schooling, and inattention to a child’s special needs.

Institute of Medicine Report

Institute of Medicine released the |NEW DIRECTIONS IN CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT RESEARCH Report in 2014, an update on 1993 report "Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect."

  • Estimated yearly societal cost of child abuse and neglect in the US is $80 billion; (this includes direct and indirect costs, like special ed., early intervention, adult homelessness).
  • Sexual and physical abuse rates have decreased, while rates of neglect remained the same.

Causes of maltreatment

Parental substance abuse, history of child abuse or neglect, and depression have strongest correlation with child abuse and neglect, followed by poverty and stressful circumstances.