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 reasonalble 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).

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