What is Child Abuse?
There are all different kinds of abuse, but here are the three big ones:
Physical – punching, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand or object), burning, or otherwise harming a child
Sexual – bad touching, being forced to have sex, being forced to look at (or play a part in) porn, being prostituted, having someone expose themselves to you
Neglect – not getting enough food or shelter, lack of supervision, not getting medical or mental health care, not being taken to school
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a certain action falls into one of these categories. If that happens, talk with someone about what’s happening, like us at the hotline. School counselors, crisis counselors, police officers, social workers, and various other people in your community will be able to help you figure out what sort of abuse might be happening.
For the most part, a “child” is considered a person who is 18 or younger. It might differ for some states that make 19 the age of adulthood.
How It Hurts You
Any of those three forms of abuse (physical, sexual, or neglect) can put you in the hospital. That’s bad enough, but there’s a lot more damage besides that. Little kids in abusive environments may not grow as healthily as they should (something doctors call “failure to thrive.”) Abusive homes can even shave points off your IQ. The emotional and social impact of abuse can cause pain for years. Here’s what some kids experience:
- low self-esteem
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- trouble with peers and friends
- suicidal thoughts
- eating disorders
- trouble trusting people, even adults who want to help
It can hurt your future, too. Kids who suffer abuse are more likely to have drug and alcohol problems, and they don’t do as well as they could in school.
Who Can I Talk to About Abuse?
The simple answer is a trustworthy adult. Rack your brain for an adult in your life that you wouldn’t mind talking to about a serious topic. That’s your ticket. Here are some examples:
- a parent
- a grandparent (or another relative)
- a teacher
- a school counselor or a professional counselor outside the school
- a coach
- a neighbor
- a leader or advisor at a temple, church, synagogue, mosque, etc.
- the police, via 9-1-1 or a non-emergency number
If you can’t think of anyone, you’ve always got us at the Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000. We are here 24/7.