Types of Abuse

Child abuse may take several forms:

  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Emotional Abuse

Note: Any of these types of abuse can have many emotional and psychological effects on a child.

Child or Youth

“Child” or “youth” means any unmarried person under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated by order of the court. F.S. 39.01(12)


“Abuse” means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual abuse, injury, or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes the birth of a new child into a family during the course of an open dependency case when the parent or caregiver has been determined to lack the protective capacity to safely care for the children in the home and has not substantially complied with the case plan towards successful reunification or met the conditions for return of the children into the home. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions. Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child. F.S. 39.01(2)


“Neglect” occurs when a child is deprived of, or is allowed to be deprived of, necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired. F.S. 39.01(50)


“Harm” to a child’s health or welfare can occur when any person:

(a) Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury.
(b) Commits, or allows to be committed, sexual battery, as defined in chapter 794, or lewd or lascivious acts, as defined in chapter 800, against the child.
(c) Allows, encourages, or forces the sexual exploitation of a child, which includes allowing, encouraging, or forcing a child to:
1. Solicit for or engage in prostitution; or
2. Engage in a sexual performance, as defined by chapter 827.
(d)   Exploits a child, or allows a child to be exploited,
(e)  Abandons the child.
(f) Neglects the child. 
(g)  Exposes a child to a controlled substance or alcohol. 

F.S. 39.01(35)

Please refer to the Florida Statutes, Title V, Chapter 39 for the full texts of these descriptions.