California state law defines child abuse as (1) physical injury inflicted on a child by another person, (2) sexual abuse, or (3) emotional abuse. Child neglect is defined as negligent treatment which threatens the child’s health or welfare. The different types of child abuse/neglect can be categorized as follows:
- Physical abuse is bodily injury inflicted by other than accidental means on a child, including willful cruelty, unjustifiable punishment, or corporal punishment.
- Sexual abuse is the victimization of a child by sexual activities, including molestation, indecent exposure, fondling, rape, and incest.
- Emotional abuse is nonphysical mistreatment, resulting in disturbed behavior by the child, such as severe withdrawal or hyperactivity. Emotional abuse includes willfully causing any child to suffer, inflicting mental suffering, or endangering a child’s emotional well-being.
- General neglect is the negligent failure of a parent/guardian or caretaker to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or supervision where no physical injury to the child has occurred.
- Severe neglect refers to those situations of neglect where the child’s health is endangered, including severe malnutrition.