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Definitions of Abuse

General Remarks

Abuse refers to an act
committed by a parent, caregiver or person in a position of trust
which is non-accidental and
which harms or threatens to harm
[someone’s] physical or mental health or [someone’s] welfare.

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Parental Substance Abuse


Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is generally defined as "any nonaccidental physical injury to the child" and can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child.

Indicators for different ages

Physical Warning Signs

Physical Warning Sign

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring the child to a doctor. The doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

Emotional Abuse

Injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition.

and

injury as evidenced by "anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior."

Indicators for different ages

Physical Warning Signs

Physical Warning Sign

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring the child to a doctor. The doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

Neglect

Failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child's health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.

Types of Neglect
  • Physical neglect: Abandoning the child or refusing to accept custody; not providing for basic needs like nutrition, hygiene, or appropriate clothing

  • Medical neglect: Delaying or denying recommended health care for the child

  • Inadequate supervision: Leaving the child unsupervised (depending on length of time and child’s age/maturity), not protecting the child from safety hazards, not providing adequate caregivers, or engaging in harmful behavior

  • Emotional neglect: Isolating the child, not providing affection or emotional support, or exposing the child to domestic violence or substance use

  • Educational neglect: Failing to enroll the child in school or homeschool, ignoring special education needs, or permitting chronic absenteeism from school

Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is evidenced by activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person.

Sexual Abuse

May include but is not limited to:
  • the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

  • exposing a child’s private areas;

  • fondling for sexual pleasure;

  • indecent phone calls, emails, sexting;

  • allowing a child to look at, or perform pornographic pictures/videos;

  • sexual intercourse; 

  • the exploitative use of a child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

  • the exploitative use of children in pornographic performance and materials.

Parental Substance Abuse

Parental Substance Abuse

Circumstances that are considered abuse or neglect in some States include the following:
  • prenatal exposure of a child to harm due to the mother's use of an illegal drug or other substance (14 States and the District of Columbia);

  • manufacture of a controlled substance in the presence of a child or on the premises occupied by a child (12 States);

  • allowing a child to be present where the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used or stored (3 States);

  • selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child (7 States and Guam);

  • use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver's ability to adequately care for the child (8 States).

Plan to Protect

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The Priestly Society of St. Pius X is committed to protecting from abuse minors and vulnerable adults.

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