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child maltreatment definition

Child maltreatment

There are wide variations in the reported incidence of child abuse and neglect based on variation in definition and methods used to estimate prevalence.

Types of abuse include: •physical abuse – non-accidental injury, burns, fractures, bruises; •emotional abuse – threats, hostility, failure to protect; •sexual abuse – penetrative, non-penetrative; and •neglect – lack of appropriate care and nurture, stimulation and supervision.

Causes of child abuse

The causative factors are complex and multi-factional. Parents who abuse children have often been victims of abuse themselves. Perpetrators often have problems in a number of areas including vocational and social skills, substance abuse, poor education and low income. Abuse is often seen as a part of dysfunction formerly with poor parent–child bonding and attachment. Abuse may also take place in institutional care, schools and children’s homes.


The first aim is to prevent further abuse and to involve child protection services in assessment and investigation of the case to ensure the safety and protection of the child. Removal from home to hospital may be necessary. The second aim is to provide inter-agency help to meet the child’s social, emotional and psychological needs while providing support to the family.

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