Child Abuse

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is common. More than 2.5 million cases of child abuse and neglect are reported each year in the United States. One-third of these involve physical abuse, and one half involve neglect. Studies show that one in four girls and one in eight to nine boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old.

Types of Child Abuse

  • Physical Abuse involves injuries to a child's body. It can include bruises, burns, broken bones, head injuries and injuries to an internal organs.
  • Sexual Abuse is any sexual activity that a child cannot comprehend or reasonably give consent. It includes acts such as fondling, oral-genital contact, genital and anal intercourse, exhibitionism, voyeurism and exposure to pornography.
  • Child Neglect can include physical neglect (withholding food, shelter, protection or other physical necessities), emotional neglect (withholding love, comfort, or affection) or medical neglect (withholding needed medical care).
  • Psychological Abuse can also be associated with verbal abuse and the other abuses. The child is repeatedly told negative things about themselves.

Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse

The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The signs can appear repeatedly or in combinations of the following:
  • Physical Abuse:  A child may have unexplained bruises, whelps, swelling or burns. Look for age-inappropriate injuries, injuries that appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt, or repeated injuries.
  • Sexual Abuse:  The child may have trouble sitting or standing; have stained, bloody, or torn underclothes; or swelling, bruises, or bleeding in the genital area. The child may display knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate for age, have sexual-like activities with objects or other children, or become sexually seductive. Children who use the internet are vulnerable to internet predators.
  • Child Neglect:  A child may consistently be dressed inappropriately for the weather; have ill fitting, dirty clothes and shoes; consistently bad hygiene; or untreated illnesses and injuries. The child may be poorly supervised.
  • Psychological Abuse: The child will have a negative self-image.

What Can You Do If You Suspect Child Abuse is Occurring?

  • Contact the Olivette Police Department. Call 314-645-3000
  • The Missouri Children’s Services Division assists law enforcement with investigating child abuse. This department also provides resources for various family issues. The 24 hour Child Abuse Hotline phone number is: 1-800-392-3738.

Additional Sources of Information


  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds 
  • Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4. 
  • It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates. 
  • 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members. 
  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. 
  • 31% percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children. 
  • 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as children. 
  • Approximately 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children. 
  • Approximately 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children, met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. 
  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy. 
  • Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused as children.
Annually, 29% of known female rape victims in America are younger than 11 years of age; however, at least 61% of rapes are never reported to the police. In America, at least 20% of adult women were sexually abused as children. Little girls are sexually abused at three times the rate of little boys in America. Most child victims know and trust their abusers. 

Sexual abuse is most likely to cause long-term harm if it is perpetrated by a father or father figure; 60% of child molesters are the father or the father-figure. In America, incest constitutes one-third to one-half of the sexual abuse of girls; however, incest victims are far less likely to report than non-incest victims. Girls are sexually abused at much higher rates than boys by family members, acquaintances, and strangers alike.