Child abuse or child maltreatment is physical, sexual, or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver. The terms child abuse and child maltreatment are often used interchangeably, although some researchers make a distinction between them, treating child maltreatment as an umbrella term to cover neglect, exploitation, and trafficking. Different jurisdictions have developed the value of touch children’s development in preschool age own definitions of what constitutes child abuse for the purposes of removing children from their families or prosecuting a criminal charge. Definitions of what constitutes child abuse vary among professionals, and between social and cultural groups, as well as across time.
The terms abuse and maltreatment are often used interchangeably in the literature. Child maltreatment can also be an umbrella term covering all forms of child abuse and child neglect. Child maltreatment includes both acts of commission and acts of omission on the part of parents or caregivers that cause actual or threatened harm to a child. The United States federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum, “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation” or “an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm”. Among professionals and the general public, people often do not agree on what behaviors constitute physical abuse of a child. Physical abuse often does not occur in isolation, but as part of a constellation of behaviors including authoritarian control, anxiety-provoking behavior, and a lack of parental warmth. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating.