Child Abuse Part 2

Yesterday we were introduced to the definition of child abuse. Today we're going to discuss the different types of child abuse. While this is not an exhaustive, all encompassing list, we believe this list does help define each type accurately. There are 4 main types of child abuse:

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is any intentional injury that occurs to a child. There are many forms in which physical abuse can take. Some of these forms include but are not limited to:

  • hitting
  • kicking
  • slapping
  • shaking
  • burning
  • pinching
  • hair pulling
  • biting
  • choking
  • shoving

Physical discipline can be included in this category if the discipline crosses the line to leave bruises, marks and/or welts.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when a parent or any authority figure in a child's life interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. Examples of emotional abuse toward a child include:

  • yelling
  • screaming
  • name-calling
  • shaming
  • negative comparisons to others ("you can never get it right like your brother")
  • telling them they are “bad", "no good", "worthless” or “a mistake.”

Emotional abuse also happens when an adult does not provide a child the affection and emotional support necessary for the child to develop in an emotionally healthy way.  Some adults may not be physically affectionate enough (lack of hugs), may withhold "I love you's", may ignore the child, or may not give enough positive praise to the child.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when there is any sexual act between an adult and a child. This includes:

  • fondling (on top of clothing or underneath clothing)
  • penetration
  • intercourse
  • exploitation
  • pornography (showing porn to a child or forcing a child to be in pornography)
  • exhibitionism
  • child prostitution
  • oral sex
  • forcing a child to watch sexual acts between others
  • trafficking


Neglect occurs when the adult in charge of the child fails to provide for that child's physical needs. This can include neglecting the child of proper housing, food, water, or supervision (watching them or having someone else watch them). Neglect also includes failing to provide a child proper clothing according to that season's weather, not providing medical care, not teaching a child proper hygiene and/or abandoning a child.

Again, a child can be abused in more than the ways listed in each of these 4 categories. Tomorrow we will discuss the warning signs of child abuse. Thank you for reading.

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.