August 5, 2020
Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect
Often, caring adults sense that a child is in danger but question whether to take action. Knowing the definitions and indicators of child abuse and neglect builds adults' confidence to respond when we believe a child needs protection.
Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is non-accidental physical injury - ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death - resulting from punching, kicking, shaking, throwing, stabbing, burning or choking with a hand, stick or another object. Even if the caregiver did not intended to hurt a child, these injuries are considered abuse.

The Child Protector App assists Children’s Protective Services, law enforcement, attorneys and medical personnel when evaluating children who may have been physically abused. The free app was developed by Children’s Mercy and the University of Texas through Children’s Justice Act Funding from Texas and Missouri.

Emotional Abuse
Emotional Abuse Defined:
A pattern of behavior that denigrates a child's emotional development and sense of self-worth. Ex: constant criticism, threats, rejection, and withholding love, support, or guidance.

Emotional child abuse is often difficult to prove. Consequently, Children’s Division may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or trauma to the child.

Neglect includes, failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care or other care necessary for a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development.

Often there are economic and environmental barriers for caregivers in meeting children's needs. Barriers are not neglect. When barriers are addressed AND you still suspect neglect – make a report.

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is forcing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. It includes sexual harassment, exhibitionism, exposure to porn, voyeurism,...etc.
About 40% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by older or more powerful youth. Making a report concerning a child with problematic sexual behavior towards other children is hard. Early intervention is critical for all children involved.

Learn the characteristics of healthy sexual development HERE

Online Abuse
Learn why cyber-tips have doubled in last few months and what you can do to protect children from online abuse. Watch this interview with Det. Selsvold from the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Online enticement involves child is being groomed to take sexually explicit images and/or ultimately meet face-to-face for sexual purposes or to sell/trade the child’s sexual images. This takes place across every platform; social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, etc.

Look for Risk Factors:
  • Unexplained gifts, money, game subscriptions or cell phone
  • Child presents themselves as older in order to use certain platforms 
  • Child sends explicit photos or videos of oneself online
  • Child becomes more secretive: minimizing screen when someone enters the room
Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), also commonly referred to as "sex trafficking" is any sexual activity involving a child for which something of value is given or promised. Learn more at Darkness to Light .
Children at Higher Risk for Abuse
Children with disabilities are at higher risk of abuse and neglect. Each child's unique needs indicate how this risk shows up. For example, one on one situations might be common because a child may need to rely on several adults for their care, children may be trained to comply with adults in their lives to have their basic needs met and abusers take advantage.

Learn more about protecting children with disabilities from child abuse from the CDC HERE

Children age 3 and under account for about 28% of child abuse and neglect victims. Young children rely on their caregivers for everything. The stress of caring for a young child can push caregivers to their limits.

If you feel overwhelmed and need a break your can reach out for crisis care HERE .

For parenting support contact:
Families: 1-800-552-8522, Kinship Navigator Line: 1-833-KIN-4-KID
Join Us in the #Essential4Kids Campaign
Take these important steps this week to be #Essential4Kids:

  • Learn more about effectively reporting child abuse and how the investigation process works by taking the free online training at

  • Follow Missouri KidsFirst on Facebook, and Twitter to get up to date resources and learn more about taking steps each day during this difficult time to protect the children in your life.

*Report Child Abuse/Neglect to the Missouri Hotline 1-800-392-3738