Types of Abuse

Abuse comes in many different forms. The information below will help you identify different types of abuse and how the law defines them. Click on the blue links below for more information on a topic. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected call: 1-866-363-4276, or 911 if the child is in immediate danger.

In Washington State, RCW 26.44.020 (1) defines abuse and neglect as injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and/or safety is harmed.

 Physical discipline of a child is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and moderate as defined in RCW 9A.16.100. Any use of force on a child by any persons other than the child's parent, guardian, or teacher is unlawful unless it is reasonable and moderate and is authorized in advance by the child's parent, or guardian. 

A child who has been injured mentally is one who sustains damage to intellectual, psychological, emotional or psychological functioning which is clearly attributable
to the non-accidental acts or omissions of the parent or guardian.

Examples of a parental or caretaker behaviors include a pattern of rejecting, isolating, ignoring, corrupting or terrorizing a child.

There is a wide range of offenses defined in the Washington state criminal code involving children that constitute sexual abuse such as: indecent liberties, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, sexual exploitation of a minor, child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, rape of a child and rape.

For more information on child sexual abuse images and how to protect children from the dangers of the internet and child images sexual exploitation please visit: www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/protecting-kids-when-everyone-has-a-camera

Negligent treatment or maltreatment (a dangerous act) is that which constitutes a clear and present danger to the child’s health, welfare, and safety such as:

  • Failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, emotional nurturing or health care;
  • Failure to provide adequate supervision in relation to a child’s level of development;
  • An act of abandonment;
  • An act of exploitation;
  • An act of reckless endangerment;
  • Other dangerous acts such as hitting, kicking, throwing, choking a child or
    shaking an infant.
Neglect is further defined in RCW 26-44-020 (17).

View more information and videos on our Educate  & Empower Page

Other Information: On physical disipline.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement calling for an end to corporal punishment. The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) believes that hitting children is one of the leading precursors to physical and psychological maltreatment, and supports the statement by the AAP". (www.apsac.org). You can read the APSAC's support statement and view or download the full AAP Report below. Click the green link to be directed to the APSAC website.

The AAP's policy statement: Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children: by Robert D. Siege, MD PhD, FAAP a. Benjamin S. Siegel, MD, FAAP b,c. Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, Committee on Psycho-social Aspects of Child & Family Health.

Download PDF. Full 12 Pages.
Positive Parenting Tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for all age groups on child development, positive parenting, safety and health.
Visit the U.S. Alliance to End The Hitting of Children. You can Support and/or Join their "NO HIT ZONE" movement and become a No-Hit-Zone organization or home. This program is used to provide a safe and caring environment for all families and/or staff.
Visit No Hit Zone

Children's Advocacy Centers of Washington is an accredited member of the NCA