In the United States, child abuse is classified or categorized into four distinct types or classes. Child abuse can be said to be in the form of child neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. These four types of child abuse will prove to be able to take on various forms, and it is important to recognize the signs for each, as child abuse poses an immediate danger to a child's life.
Child abuse and neglect can be defined as to any particular situation where a parent or legal guardian fails to properly provide for the child. This will usually refer to basic necessities, such as food, clothing, housing, and hygiene. These are considered to be physical versions of child abuse and neglect.
Emotional neglect is the failure to provide affection, educational neglect is failure to enroll a child in an educational system, and medical neglect is the failure of providing the basic health needs. Child abuse and neglect can also be either intentional or unintentional.
Physical child abuse will encompass all forms of physical harm inflicted on a child. Most countries will not provide for a strict distinction between physical child abuse and discipline, and thus, oftentimes are seen as one in the same in certain jurisdictions.
Emotional child abuse can prove to be hard to define, though it will oftentimes include pervasive degradation, criticism, insults, humiliation, and even the destruction of personal belongings.
Child sexual abuse is when an adult engages in sexual activity with a child for the purpose of sexual stimulation. This also includes providing or showing pornographic material, exposure of the genitals, and all forms of child pornography.