Child Abuse

Child Abuse is the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment or neglect of individuals under the age of 18.

Physical Child Abuse includes, but is not limited to:

  • Beating, slapping or hitting
  • Pushing, shaking, kicking or throwing
  • Pinching, biting, choking or hair-pulling
  • Severe physical punishment

Physical Punishment vs. Physical Abuse

Physical punishment is the use of physical force with the intent of inflicting bodily pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control. Physical punishment can easily get out of control and become child abuse.

Emotional Child Abuse

Emotional child abuse is any attitude, behavior or failure to act that interferes with a child’s wellbeing. It can range from a single verbal insult to extreme verbal belittlement.

Examples include:

  • Intimidation
  • Belittling
  • Lack of affection
  • Exposure to violence (including the physical abuse of others)


Neglect is a very common type of child abuse and is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs. Three major types of neglect and highlighted below:

  • Physical Neglect: Failure to provide food, weather appropriate clothing, supervision, a safe place and/or medical care.
  • Educational Neglect: Failure to enroll a school aged child in school or to provide necessary special education. This includes allowing excessive absences from school.
  • Emotional Neglect: Failure to provide emotional support, love and affection. This includes neglect of a child’s emotional needs and failure to provide psychological care, as needed.

Child Sexual Abuse

Please click here for information on Child Sexual Abuse, which will take you to the Sexual Violence section.

If you fear a child you know is in danger, call 911. If you suspect child abuse, consider calling your local Social Services agency to file a report. The Social Services hotline number within Virginia is (800) 552-7096 and (804) 786-8536 outside the state. As always, feel free to contact the Women’s Resource Center at (540) 639-1123 for further support.