What is child abuse? It is the physical or emotional abuse of a child by a parent, guardian, or other person. Reports of child abuse, including sexual abuse, beating, and murder, have climbed in the United States and some authorities believe that the number of cases is largely under reported. Child neglect is sometimes included in legal definitions of child abuse to cover instances of malnutrition, desertion, and inadequate care of a child's safety. When reported, child abuse cases are complicated by inadequate foster care services and a legal system that has trouble accommodating the suggestible nature of children, who are often developmentally unable to distinguish fact from make-believe (Hay, 1996).
In 1993, the United States Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect declared a child protection emergency. Between 1985 and 1993, there was a 50 percent increase in reported cases of child abuse. Three million cases of child abuse are repo...