What is abuse?

According to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 119, Section 51A an abused child is one who is “under the age of eighteen suffering physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse inflicted upon him which causes harm or substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare including sexual abuse, or from neglect, including malnutrition, or who is determined to be physically dependent on an addictive drug at birth”.

Physical Abuse: the non-accidental physical injury of a child by a caretaker, including beatings, burns, bites, strangulation, immersion in scalding water, which results in bruises, welts, broken bones, scars, or serious internal injuries.

Sexual Abuse: sexual contact between a child and an adult or older child for the sexual gratification of the offender. It can include both physical and non-physical contact and it is always forced.

Emotional Abuse: a pattern of behavior that attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self worth.

Neglect: the withholding or failure by a caretaker to provide a child with the basic necessities of life food, clothing, shelter, medical care, attention to hygiene, or supervision needed for optimal physical growth and development.