Four Types of Abuse


The leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent or guardian of the child. Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.

  • Left unattended or in the care of other children who are too young to protect them; wandering the neighborhood
  • Dressed inappropriately for the weather
  • Consistently dirty, unkempt, or have body odor
  • Lacking medical care, including medications and immunizations
  • Frequently absent from school or not enrolled in school
  • Begging, stealing, or rummaging for food
  • Malnourished or underweight
  • Living in unsanitary or unsafe housing conditions

Emotional Abuse

Mental or emotional injury to a child, causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning. Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety and irrational fears
  • Poor peer relations
  • Withdrawal
  • Defiance
  • Reckless or destructive behaviors
  • Bedwetting

Physical Abuse

Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian or anyone that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm. Additionally, it includes failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child. Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.

  • Injuries that are unexplained and/or when the child or parent cannot adequately explain injury (inflicted vs. afflicted)
  • Unusual pattern of burns or bruises with instrument demarcation
  • Lack of or no treatment for injuries
  • No reaction to pain or complaints of pain without obvious injury
  • Fear of being alone with adult or going home or seeing parents/guardian
  • Withdrawn, passive, disruptive, aggressive and destructive o self-destructive behavior
  • Injuries that appear after the child has not been seen for several days
  • Injuries on abdomen, face, genitalia, side of body, back of hands
  • Complaints of soreness or discomfort when moving

Sexual Abuse

Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of sexual assault, indecency with a child, or aggravated sexual assault; failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child; compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct; child pornography, trafficking or prostitution; causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene or pornographic. Definition taken from Texas State Family Code, Section 261.001.

  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in undergarment
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Sexually transmitted diseases child young in age
  • Pregnancy in early adolescence
  • Promiscuous or seductive inappropriate behavior
  • Touching peers inappropriately
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Excessive knowledge/curiosity about sex
  • Excessive bathing/cleansing

Child Abuse Prevention FAQ

  • Texas law says that anyone who thinks a child is being or has been abused or neglected must report it to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
  • Report suspected child abuse or neglect via the Texas Abuse Hotline. You may report by phone at 1-800-252-5400 or by secure website at
  • Make a report by phone if the situation is urgent and needs to be investigated within 24 hours.
  • Make a report by secure website if the situation does not need to be investigated right away. Be aware that it may take more than 48 hours to process an online report.
  • If the situation is an emergency or life-threatening call 911 or your local law enforcement agency first and then call the Texas Abuse Hotline.
  • For more information on reporting suspected abuse or neglect, please visit

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance in the United States dedicated to preventing and raising awareness about child abuse and neglect. April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month since 1983 and since 1989 is marked by the 1989 Blue Ribbon Campaign ( During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to increase awareness and provide education and support to families through resources and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect.

  • Know the signs.
  • See something, say something. Report suspected abuse.
  • Support programs that work to prevent child abuse.

Parenting Tips

Positive Parenting Makes a Difference.

The more you learn about parenting and your child’s development, the better you are prepared to respond to your child’s needs. The following are some things you can do to help your child during the first few years of life.

  • Talk and read to your baby daily. This will help your baby be calmer and learn how to use language.
  • Meet your child’s basic needs and spend time giving lots of love and attention. This will help your baby learn that she/he is loved, cared for and secure.
  • Talk and read to your child daily. Teach your child songs and rhymes. You can help your toddler’s language development by talking and adding words to daily conversations.
  • Promote play and help your child to explore his/her environment and try new things. Play is important for learning and will help your child grow strong and healthy.
  • Teach your child about emotions and acceptable ways to show them. Encourage your child to identify feelings in books or in specific daily interactions.
  • Continue reading to your child every day. Help your child develop language skills by
  • Go to play groups with your child and encourage your child to play with other children.
  • Set limits for your child’s behavior. Give your child instructions with 2 or 3 steps. This will help children begin to understand what is expected from them and respect for others.


Positive Parenting Tips for Healthy Child Development. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

Roggman, L. A., & Boyce, L. K., & Innocenti, M. S. (2008). Developmental parenting: A guide for early childhood practitioners Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.


Resources for Parents


There are a variety of additional external resources available to assist parents and community partners in learning more about child abuse prevention and building healthy families.