What Is Child Abuse and Neglect?

Descriptions of Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Neglect

Physical Abuse

Examples include, but are not limited to: beating, harmful restraint, use of a weapon or intrument, or actions that result in or could result in serious physical injury.

Sexual Abuse

This is any sexual behavior imposed on a juvenile. This involves a range of activities, including fondling the genital area, masturbation, oral sex, or vaginal or anal penetration by a finger, penis, or other object. It also includes exhibitionism, child pornography, and use of suggestive behaviors or comments.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is expressing attitudes or behaviors toward a child that create serious emotional or psychological damage as evidenced by the juvenile’s severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior towards self or others.


Child neglect is defined as any serious disregard for a juvenile’s supervision, care, or discipline.

*Information quoted in this section is from Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (www.preventchildabusenc.org), of which Kids First, Inc. is an Affiliate Agency.