Defining Child Abuse and Neglect

The New Hampshire Children’s Trust definition of child abuse and neglect encompasses the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of Child Maltreatment

Child Maltreatment

Any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.

Perpetrator

Can be a parent, caregiver, family member, acquaintance or stranger of any age. Youth violence typically includes perpetrators between the ages of 10 and 24, although patterns of youth violence can begin in early childhood.

Acts of Commission (Child Abuse)

Words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child. Acts of commission are deliberate and intentional; however, harm to a child may or may not be the intended consequence. Intentionality only applies to the caregivers' acts-not the consequences of those acts. For example, a caregiver may intend to hit a child as punishment (i.e., hitting the child is not accidental or unintentional) but not intend to cause the child to have a concussion. The following types of maltreatment involve acts of commission.

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse

Acts of Omission (Child Neglect)

The failure to provide for a child's basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm. Like acts of commission, harm to a child may or may not be the intended consequence. The following types of maltreatment involve acts of omission:

  • Failure to provide
    • Physical neglect
    • Emotional neglect
    • Medical/dental neglect
    • Educational neglect
  • Failure to supervise
    • Inadequate supervision
    • Exposure to violent environments