Child Abuse: What You Need to Know

If you suspect or are experiencing child abuse and/or neglect, click here now.


Maryland’s ability to raise healthy children who will lead tomorrow’s communities requires smart and innovative thinking today. We have the power to reverse the tides of child abuse and neglect, and understanding the issue is the first step. Get a snapshot of the information below in this infographic.


Prevalence & Definitions

Child abuse and neglect are the public health issues that The Family Tree works to prevent. CODE OF MARYLAND REGULATIONS (COMAR) defines child abuse and child neglect as:

Physical injury not (necessarily visible) of a child under circumstances that indicate that a child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed.
The failure to give proper care and attention to a child, leaving a child unattended where the child’s health or welfare is harmed or a child is placed in substantial risk of harm.
An act or acts involving sexual molestation or exploitation whether physical injuries are sustained or not.
Identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function.
Finding credible evidence that has not been satisfactorily refuted that physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse occurred.
  • Physical injury not (necessarily visible) of a child under circumstances that indicate that a child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed.
  • The failure to give proper care and attention to a child, leaving a child unattended where the child’s health or welfare is harmed or a child is placed in substantial risk of harm.
  • An act or acts involving sexual molestation or exploitation whether physical injuries are sustained or not.
  • Identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function.
  • Finding credible evidence that has not been satisfactorily refuted that physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse occurred.

Without Intervention, the Consequences Can Last a Lifetime

Science shows a strong correlation between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and serious health and social issues. We now know that child abuse can alter brain development. What’s more, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can lead to teen pregnancy, substance abuse, the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence, being a victim of violence, and incarceration.


Why This Matters

There are over 51,000 reports of child maltreatment each year in Maryland (that's one every 10 minutes!). For every reported case of abuse, it is estimated that two go unreported.

Maryland taxpayers pay over $1.5 billion each year treating the long-term consequences outlined above. On a national scale, child abuse and neglect costs our society $80 billion each year with over 50% of that going to indirect costs such as adult mental and physical care, juvenile and adult criminal justice and homelessness. For every $1 invested in prevention, the state saves $15.


Child Abuse Can Be Prevented!

With early care, education and family support, we can help parents and the community provide sturdy foundations for every child’s development. Recent advances in the science of early childhood development tell us that the early years are a time when the brain is literally building itself from the ground up, in much the way a house is constructed. And, it is the relationships and experiences that children have early in life that are the building blocks. When children have stable, responsive relationships with caring adults at home and in the community, children get off to a good start with a strong foundation for future development.


What You Can Do