What Is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is when an adult hurts a child, and it is not by accident. There are four kinds of child abuse:

Physical Abuse - Physical abuse is when an adult hurts you by hitting or beating you.

Emotional Abuse - Emotional abuse is when an adult says things that make you feel like a bad person or make you feel worthless.

Neglect - Neglect is when an adult fails to provide you with food, shelter, clothing or medical attention.

Sexual Abuse - Is when an adult touches the private parts of your body or has you touch the private parts of his or her body. Everyone likes to be hugged or touched by people who love us, but some kinds of touching are not proper behavior. If you are not sure what is a good touch and what is a bad touch, talk about it with an adult you trust.

**Even if you have done something bad, that does not make it all right for an adult to intentionally hurt you.

Is it my fault if I am abused?

No. Some children blame themselves, but it is the adult who must be blamed. Adults might tell you that it is your fault. No matter what, if you are abused, it is never your fault.

How can I stop someone from abusing me?

The best way to stop abuse is to talk about it. Child abuse is against the law. Even if the abuse happened only once or seems like it is over, it is still important to tell someone you trust who can help you.

Child abusers may tell kids that something bad will happen if they ever tell anyone. If the abuser is a family member, children may be afraid the family will break apart if they tell the secret. Remember, the way to stop abuse is to tell someone. You should not keep it a secret.

What will happen to the abuser if I tell?

The abuser may get the kind of help he or she needs to stop hurting children. A person who abuses children needs help. Most abusers need special counseling. If the abuser is someone in your family, you may see less of him or her for a while. Because child abuse is against the law, some abusers may go to jail or prison. If this happens, it is not your fault. It is the abuser's fault.

What if I know someone whom I suspect is being abused?

If you are fairly sure that a child is being abused, tell someone like a teacher, parent or another family member about the abuse. Adults are required to report information to the proper authorities under Indiana law. The police or Child Protective Services should be called to investigate the situation. Please report abuse to authorities by calling the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556. No child deserves to be abused.

Abuse of a child is a horrible thing to have to endure, both for the child and for the family. Child and Parent Services (CAPS) is available to assist families that have found themselves in this situation. CAPS has many programs available, including monitoring court-ordered supervised visits. Visit the CAPS website for more information.