Child Maltreatment or Abuse

As based on the definition from the World Health Organization, updated June 2020, child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that happens to children (in the case of Liberty International School, students of any age). It includes, but is not limited to, all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, or exploitation, which results in actual or possible harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity.


Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse is any maltreatment which negatively effects the psychological development of the child. Emotional Abuse is often verbal and may include, but is not limited to, name calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love or affection, and threatening (CDC).  Actions such as these convey or portray a sense of worthlessness or convey a feeling that indicates children’s value is dependent on whether they please or displease another person. Emotional Abuse may also result from actions that instill fear, such as locking a child in a confined space or by exposing the child to repeated violent situations.

Some Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse:

  • Child is fearful of a parent

  • Child says he/she hates a parent

  • Child talks badly about themselves (saying such things as “I’m stupid”)

  • Child's mental and emotional development seems to be hindered

  • Child reacts coldly or without emotion to painful or horrible situations

  • Child responds unusually to praise or seeks attention through inappropriate actions


Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse refers to any action done to intentionally cause harm, externally or internally, to the child.  This may occur by direct physical contact or by an extension or use of another object. Physical Abuse includes, but is not limited to, hitting, punching, kicking, whipping, shaking, burning, drowning, or strangling.


Some Possible Signs of Physical Abuse:

  • Child has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes

  • Child has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school

  • Child has injuries which have not received medical attention

  • Child wears clothing that covers the arms or legs in hot weather or avoids activities that expose these areas (e.g., swimming)

  • Child seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home

  • Child shrinks at the approach of adults

  • Child reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

  • Child is abnormally aggressive towards others

  • Child is abnormally complaisant or compliant


Consider the Possibility of Physical Abuse When the Parent or Other Adult Caregiver:

  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child’s injury.

  • Describes the child as “evil,” or in some other very negative way.

  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child.

  • Has a history of abuse as a child



Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when an individual engages in a sexual act with a child, regardless of whether the child is aware of the situation or not. Sexual abuse can happen between an adult and the child or a child and a child.  Having a child view pornographic material, be involved in the creation of such material, or take part in a commercialized form of sexual activity are some examples of sexual abuse.


Some Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse:

  • Inappropriate sexualized behavior or language

  • Pain or irritation around reproductive organs

  • Fear or uneasiness in the presence of certain individuals or genders

  • Child talks of having a special or secret adult friend



Neglect refers to the failure of a parent or guardian to meet or ensure the basic physical needs of a child.  Examples of this are not providing sufficient food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision.


Some Possible Signs of Neglect:

  • Poor hygiene

  • Child consistently appears to be hungry

  • Child is frequently late or absent from school

  • Child has clear medical needs that have not been attended to

  • Child seems to be unaware of how to have social relationships



Bullying is repeated inappropriate behavior, either direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical, electronic or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another child.  Furthermore, there is a (real or perceived) difference in the balance of power between the individuals, and bullying may seek to belittle the child or cause fear or emotional distress.


Some Possible Signs of Bullying:

  • Supposedly or frequently lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry

  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares

  • Exhibits a sense of helplessness or decreased self esteem

  • There is a decline in grades or interest in school