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Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.


Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars.

The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle—rather than perpetuate it. By learning about common signs of abuse and what you can do to intervene, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life. According to WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) worldwide approximately 40 million children are subjected to child abuse each year (WHO, 2001). [1]


Table of Contents





Islamic Teachings


Children are special people.They have their own identity. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad showed this through his behavior. He loved children and was always compassionate and merciful towards them. We need to take good care of them, or else we are answerable on the day of Judgement, The Messenger of Allaah said, according to a hadeeth (prophetic narration) narrated by ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar, “… and your child has rights over you.” Sahih Muslim, 1159


Prophetused to teach children that failure is not a problem and it is a stepping stone to success. Narrated Anas (RA): I served The Prophet for ten years, and he never said to me, “Uf” (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, “Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?” Kitab Al-Adab, Sahih Al-Bukhari 6038 (Vol.8: 64) [2]



Data & Statistics

  • There were 678,932 victims of child abuse and neglect reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) in 2013.


  • The youngest children are the most vulnerable with about 27% of reported victims being under the age of three.


  • CPS reports may underestimate the true occurrence of abuse and neglect. A non-CPS study estimated that 1 in 4 children experience  some form of child maltreatment in their lifetimes.


  • About 1,520 children died from abuse and neglect in 2013.


  • The total lifetime cost of child maltreatment is $124 billion each year. [3]



Types of Child Abuse


There are several types of abuse. Some of them are listed below.


Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse of a child is when a parent or caregiver causes any non-accidental physical injury to a child. There are many signs of physical abuse. If you see any of the following signs, please get help right away.


28.3% of adults report being physically abused as a child


Physical abuse includes striking, kicking, burning, biting, hair pulling, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping or any other action that injures a child. Even if the caregiver didn’t mean to cause injury, when the child is injured it is abuse.  Physical discipline from a parent that does not injure or impair a child is not considered abuse; however non-violent alternatives are always available.


Physical abuse can result in:


  • Bruises, blisters, burns, cuts and scratches


  • Internal injuries, brain damage


  • Broken bones, sprains, dislocated joints


  • Emotional and psychological harm


  • Lifelong injury, death


Signs of Physical Abuse in parent or caregiver:


  • Can’t or won’t explain injury of child, or explains it in a way that doesn’t make sense


  • Displays aggression to child or is overly anxious about child’s behavior


  • Indicates child is not trustworthy, a liar, evil, a troublemaker


  • Delays or prevents medical care for child


  • Takes child to different doctors or hospitals


  • Keeps child from school, church, clubs


  • Has history of violence and/or abuse


Signs of physical abuse in a child:



  • Any injury to a child who is not crawling yet


  • Visible and severe injuries, especially when injuries are:


  • Many, at different stages of healing


  • On different surfaces of the body


  • Unexplained or explained in a way that doesn’t make sense


  • Distinctive shape


  • Frequency, timing and history of injuries (frequent, after weekends, vacations, school absences)




  • Aggression toward peers, pets, other animals


  • Seems afraid of parents or other adults


  • Fear, withdrawal, depression, anxiety


  • Wears long sleeves out of season


  • Violent themes in fantasy, art, etc.


  • Nightmares, insomnia


  • Reports injury, severe discipline


  • Immaturity, acting out, emotional and behavior extremes


  • Self-destructive behavior or attitudes



Sexual abuse


Sexual abuse occurs when an adult uses a child for sexual purposes or involves a child in sexual acts. It also includes when a child who is older or more powerful uses another child for sexual gratification or excitement.


20.7% of adults report being sexually abused as a child


Sexual abuse of children includes:

  • Non-contact abuse


  • Making a child view a sex act


  • Making a child view or show sex organs


  • Inappropriate sexual talk


  • Contact abuse


  • Fondling and oral sex


  • Penetration


  • Making children perform a sex act


  • Exploitation


  • Child prostitution and child pornography


Signs of sexual abuse in parent or caregiver:


  • Parent fails to supervise child


  • Unstable adult presence


  • Jealous/possessive parent


  • Sexual relationships troubled or dysfunctional


  • Parent relies on child for emotional support


Signs of sexual abuse in a child:



  • Difficulty sitting, walking, bowel problems


  • Torn, stained, bloody undergarments


  • Bleeding, bruises, pain, swelling, itching of genital area


  • Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections


  • Any sexually transmitted disease or related symptoms




  • Doesn’t want to change clothes (e.g.: for P.E.)


  • Withdrawn, depressed, anxious


  • Eating disorders, preoccupation with body


  • Aggression, delinquency, poor peer relationships


  • Poor self-image, poor self-care, lack of confidence


  • Sudden absenteeism, decline in school performance


  • Substance abuse, running away, recklessness, suicide attempts


  • Sleep disturbance, fear of bedtime, nightmares, bed wetting (at advanced age)


  • Sexual acting out, excessive masturbation


  • Unusual or repetitive soothing behaviors (hand-washing, pacing, rocking, etc.)


  • Sexual behavior or knowledge that is advanced or unusual


  • Reports sexual abuse




Emotional abuse

When a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental and social development, or causes severe emotional harm, it is considered emotional abuse. While a single incident may be abuse, most often emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that causes damage over time.


10.6% of adults report being emotionally abused as a child


Emotional abuse can include:

  • Rejecting or ignoring: telling a child he or she is unwanted or unloved, showing little interest in child, not initiating or returning affection, not listening to the child, not validating the child’s feelings, breaking promises, cutting child off in conversation


  • Shaming or humiliating: calling a child names, criticizing, belittling, demeaning, berating, mocking, using language or taking action that takes aim at child’s feelings of self-worth


  • Terrorizing: accusing, blaming, insulting, punishing with or threatening abandonment, harm or death, setting a child up for failure, manipulating, taking advantage of a child’s weakness or reliance on adults, slandering; screaming; yelling


  • Isolating: Keeping child from peers and positive activities, confining child to small area, forbidding play or other stimulating experiences


  • Corrupting: Engaging child in criminal acts, telling lies to justify actions or ideas, encouraging misbehavior


Signs of Emotional Abuse in parent or caregiver:


  • Routinely ignores, criticizes, yells at or blames child


  • Plays favorites with one sibling over another


  • Poor anger management or emotional self-regulation


  • Stormy relationships with other adults, disrespect for authority


  • History of violence or abuse


  • Untreated mental illness, alcoholism or substance abuse


Signs of Emotional Abuse in a child:



  • Delays in development


  • Wetting bed, pants


  • Speech disorders


  • Health problems like ulcers, skin disorders


  • Obesity and weight fluctuation




  • Habits like sucking, biting, rocking


  • Learning disabilities and developmental delays


  • Overly compliant or defensive


  • Extreme emotions, aggression, withdrawal


  • Anxieties, phobias, sleep disorders


  • Destructive or anti-social behaviors (violence, cruelty, vandalism, stealing, cheating, lying)


  • Behavior that is inappropriate for age (too adult, too infantile)


  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors


Child neglect


 Child neglect is when a parent or caregiver does not give the care, supervision, affection and support needed for a child’s health, safety and well-being.


Child neglect includes:

  • Physical neglect and inadequate supervision


  • Emotional neglect


  • Medical neglect


  • Educational neglect


  • Physical Neglect


Physical Neglect


Children need enough care to be healthy and enough supervision to be safe. Adults that care for children must provide clothing, food, and drink. A child also needs safe, healthy shelter, and adequate supervision.


Examples of physical neglect:

  • Deserting a child or refusing to take custody of a child who is under your care


  • Repeatedly leaving a child in another’s custody for days or weeks at a time


  • Failing to provide enough healthy food and drink


  • Failing to provide clothes that are appropriate to the weather


  • Failing to ensure adequate personal hygiene


  • Not supervising a child appropriately


  • Leaving the child with an inappropriate caregiver


  • Exposing a child to unsafe/unsanitary environments or situations


Emotional Neglect



Children require enough affection and attention to feel loved and supported. If a child shows signs of psychological illness, it must be treated.


Examples of emotional neglect:


  • Ignoring a child’s need for attention, affection, and emotional support


  • Exposing a child to extreme or frequent violence, especially domestic violence


  • Permitting a child to use drugs, use alcohol, or engage in crime


  • Keeping a child isolated from friends and loved ones


Medical Neglect


Some states do not prosecute parents who withhold certain types of medical care for religious reasons, but they may get a court order to protect the child’s life.


Parents and caregivers must provide children with appropriate treatment for injuries and illness. They must also provide basic preventive care to make sure their child stays safe and healthy.


Examples of medical neglect:

  • Not taking child to hospital or appropriate medical professional for serious illness or injury.


  • Keeping a child from getting needed treatment


  • Not providing preventative medical and dental care


  • Failing to follow medical recommendations for a child



Educational Neglect


Parents and schools share responsibility for making sure children have access to opportunities for academic success.


Examples of educational neglect:

  • Allowing a child to miss too much school


  • Not enrolling a child in school (or not providing comparable home-based education)


  • Keeping a child from needed special education services


Signs of Child Neglect


There is no “smoking gun” for most child neglect. While even one instance of neglect can cause lifelong harm to a child, neglect often requires a pattern of behavior over a period of time.


Signs in Caregiver


There is no “typical neglectful parent.” Nevertheless, certain indicators may suggest a parent or caregiver needs help to nurture and protect the child or children in their care:

  • Displays indifference or lack of care toward the child


  • Depression, apathy, drug/alcohol abuse and other mental health issues


  • Denies problems with child or blames the child for problems


  • Views child negatively


  • Relies on child for own care and well-being


Signs in Child


 While a single indicator may not be cause for alarm, children who are neglected often show that they need help:


  • Clothing that is the wrong size, in disrepair, dirty, or not right for the weather


  • Often hungry, stockpiles food, seeks food, may even show signs of malnutrition (like distended belly, protruding bones)


  • Very low body weight, height for age


  • Often tired, sleepy, listless


  • Hygiene problems, body odor


  • Talks about caring for younger siblings, not having a caregiver at home


  • Untreated medical and dental problems, incomplete immunizations


  • Truancy, frequently incomplete homework, frequent changes of school [4]



Myths And Facts About Child Abuse And Neglect


MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.


Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.


MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.


Fact: While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children, it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.


MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in “good” families.


Fact: Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.


MYTH #4: Most child abusers are strangers.


Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.


MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.


Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.


Effects of child abuse and neglect


All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:

  • Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.


  • Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.


  • Trouble regulating emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.


Risk factors for child abuse and neglect

While child abuse and neglect occurs in all types of families—even in those that look happy from the outside—children are at a much greater risk in certain situations.


  • Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence is terrifying to children and emotionally abusive. Even if the mother does her best to protect her children and keeps them from being physically abused, the situation is still extremely damaging. If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationships, getting out is the best thing for protecting the children.


  • Alcohol and drug abuse. Living with an alcoholic or addict is very difficult for children and can easily lead to abuse and neglect. Parents who are drunk or high are unable to care for their children, make good parenting decisions, and control often-dangerous impulses. Substance abuse also commonly leads to physical abuse.


  • Untreated mental illness. Parents who suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness have trouble taking care of themselves, much less their children. A mentally ill or traumatized parent may be distant and withdrawn from his or her children, or quick to anger without understanding why. Treatment for the caregiver means better care for the children.


  • Lack of parenting skills. Some caregivers never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Teen parents, for example, might have unrealistic expectations about how much care babies and small children need. Or parents who were themselves victims of child abuse may only know how to raise their children the way they were raised. In such cases, parenting classes, therapy, and caregiver support groups are great resources for learning better parenting skills.


  • Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time-intensive, difficult job, especially if you’re raising children without support from family, friends, or the community or you’re dealing with relationship problems or financial difficulties. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. It’s important to get the support you need, so you are emotionally and physically able to support your child.



Reporting abuse in your home or in child custody situations

Witnessing abuse in your own home or suspecting abuse in a custody situation brings its own set of challenges and concerns. You may be afraid of what your abuser will do to you and your children if you speak up. You may also be concerned that the abuser will be able to cover his or her tracks or even turn the abuse around onto you. Culturally, it may not be acceptable for you to separate, adding additional feelings of shame and isolation. You may also be afraid of having your children taken away from you.


Don’t  go it alone


Domestic violence isn’t just about black eyes. Manipulation and emotional threats to you and your children are also a form of abuse, power, and control. Fear of losing custody of the children can be extremely stressful for both women and men in abusive relationships. Child abuse allegations in divorce or child custody issues are viewed very carefully to ensure they are not motivated by vindictiveness. However, if your abuser appears professional, well-groomed, and well-spoken to the outside world, you may feel like your concerns aren’t being taken seriously. Worse, if your allegations remain unproven, they may even result in the abuser being given custody.


Therefore, if you are planning to separate, or have already separated and are in a custody battle, it is essential to get support and legal advice. Domestic violence organizations can help you connect with legal resources in your community, and may be able to provide an advocate to assist your case and attend court hearings. Domestic violence organizations can help you work out a safety plan for both you and your children, and in the U.S. can also help you make calls to CPS if needed.


Tips on how to report child abuse in your home or in a custody situation


  1. Stay CALM. Do not let your emotions dictate your actions, and do not vent your emotions onto the people who are assigned to investigate your case (CPS, law enforcement officers, etc.).


  1. IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY: Call your local police or Authority.


  1. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING from this point forward, including times, dates, and places. KEEP all documents from all professionals who have an opinion about the child abuse. This includes therapists, doctors, policemen, and teachers. If a professional informs you that they have an opinion or a suspicion of child abuse, have them document that suspicion, preferably in the form of an affidavit. Be sure to get a copy of any opinions from professionals regarding your child's case.


  1. HAVE YOUR CHILD EVALUATED. Talk to medical and psychology professionals. If possible, have your child evaluated at a Child Assessment Center.


  1. BEGIN INVESTIGATION. Talk to law enforcement officers to initiate an investigation into the allegation of child abuse. Any reasonable belief of abuse or neglect should be reported to the police. If you have been too afraid to voice allegations in the past, let them know. If you have previously reported abuse, communicate the fact that you are trying to protect the child from further harm


  1. GET AN ATTORNEY. Get an attorney and start proceedings to gain full custody of your child and terminate the abuser's parental rights. [5]

10 Signs of Child Abuse

You can become aware of child abuse by recognizing the signs. Here are 10 signs that can help.


1. Unexplained injuries. Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.



2. Changes in behavior. Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.


3. Returning to earlier behaviors. Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.


4. Fear of going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.


5. Changes in eating. The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.


6. Changes in sleeping. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.


7. Changes in school performance and attendance. Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.


8. Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.


9. Risk-taking behaviors. Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.


10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.


Some signs that a child is experiencing violence or abuse are more obvious than others. Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities. [6]


See also:Drug abuse; Protection from Evil eye. jinn. Magic; Health Guidelines; Alcohol and Tobacco









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