Abuse or neglect are defined as a threat to a child’s health or welfare due to physical, mental or emotional injury or impairment, sexual abuse or exploitation, deprivation of essential needs or lack of protection from these by a parent or caregiver who is responsible for the child.
Types of Abuse Physical abuse
State of Maine DHHS Definition: Abusive treatment to a child by a parent or caregiver that caused or is likely to cause physical injury. Injuries may include bruises, lacerations, adult bites, burns, fractures, and head trauma.
State of Maine DHHS Definition: Abusive treatment by a parent/caregiver that has resulted in emotional impairment or distress in a child.
State of Maine DHHS Definition: Failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, or medical care causing or is likely to cause injury including accidental injury or illness. Also failure to protect a child from harm resulting in physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse.
State of Maine DHHS Definition: A parent/caregiver engaged in sexual contact with a child, or forces a
child to have sexual contact with others.
Most Common Risk Factors Associated with Child Abuse and Neglect in Maine
Children under six years of age
Uncontrolled Mental Illness/Behavioral Issues
Physical Health Problems
Alcohol/Drug Misuse by Parent/Caregiver
Problems Functioning at School (truancy, behavioral issues)
Severe Parent/Child conflict
**Note: The absence of these risk factors does not mean that abuse or neglect has not occurred**
General Indicators of Physical Abuse
Injury is inconsistent with the explanation being offered
Different or changing explanations of the injury by caregiver or child
Injury is inconsistent with the developmental age of the child;
(e.g., any bruise or fracture in a non-ambulatory infant)
Child or caretaker states/discloses that the injury was inflicted
A caregiver offers conflicting, unconvincing, or offers no explanation for the child’s injury
A caregiver describes the child as “evil”, or in some other negative way
A caregiver uses harsh physical discipline with the child
A child or caregiver discloses abuse
ALL TYPES OF ABUSE INCLUDE EMOTIONAL ABUSE.
General Indicators of Emotional Abuse
The following behaviors on the part of parents or caretakers convey the message that the child is worthless, flawed, unloved, endangered, or only valuable in relation to how well the child meets someone else’s needs.
Hostility, Rejection, Degradation
Verbal/nonverbal rejecting and degrading a child (e.g., belittling, degrading, hostility,
rejecting treatment, shaming, ridiculing the child for showing normal emotions),
consistently singling out one child to criticize and punish, public humiliation
Threatens or is likely to physically hurt, kill, abandon, or place the child or child’s loved ones or objects in recognizably dangerous situations
consistently deny the child opportunities to meet her/his needs for interacting or communicating with peers or adults inside or outside the home. For example, confining the child or placing unreasonable limitations on the child’s freedom of movement within her/his environment.
encourage the child to develop inappropriate behaviors that are self-destructing, antisocial, criminal, deviant, and/or other maladaptive behaviors
**The above procedures apply to families who are reported to the Department of Health and Human Services solely for habitual truancy. However, school attendance issues may be a symptom of other types of abuse or neglect.** Some parental/caregiver behaviors and conditions that may cause poor school attendance include:
Parental substance abuse can cause incapacitation to the extent that young children are on their own to get ready for school.
Children may be kept home from school to conceal injuries caused by parental abuse.
Uncontrolled parental mental illness may be impacting parental capacity.
Children may be kept home to prevent the child from disclosing sexual abuse.
Consider the Possibility of Neglect When:
A child begs or steals food or money from classmates
ALL TYPES OF ABUSE INCLUDE EMOTIONAL ABUSE. A child lacks necessary medical or dental care (immunizations, glasses, etc.)
A child is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
A child lacks appropriate clothing for weather
A caregiver appears indifferent to the child, apathetic or depressed
A caregiver behaves irrationally or in a “bizarre” manner