Child abuse and neglect are widespread and cut across class, race, gender, and culture; they pose a significant threat to healthy development over the lifespan. Children and youth have been exploited, abused, and disregarded for centuries. Commonly held social, cultural, and religious beliefs that instigate child maltreatment pervade our history, including paternalistic views of children as property of their parents, traditions of child-rearing as a process of saving souls from sin, long-standing attitudes that corporal punishment is an essential form of discipline, and widespread tolerance of forced child labor, prostitution, and participation in armed groups.

Broadly construed, child abuse and neglect are any acts or a lack of action by a parent or other caregiver that results in serious physical, sexual, or emotional harm to a ...

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