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How to Report Abuse and Neglect

What is abuse and neglect?

Child abuse and neglect affects children of every age, race, and income level. However, research has identified many risk factors relating to the child, family, community, and society that are associated with an increased risk of child abuse and neglect. Studies have also shown that when multiple risk factors are present, the risk is greater.

Young mothers and fathers unprepared for the responsibilities of raising a child; overwhelmed single parents with little support; and families placed under stress by poverty, divorce, or a child's disability are all at greater risk. Some families are stressed by worries about employment, health, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, or are simply unaware of how to care for their children's basic needs.

These circumstances, combined with the inherent challenges of raising children, can result in otherwise well-intentioned parents causing their children harm or neglecting their needs.

There are four types of child abuse:

  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse

Neglect: Occurs when a parent or caretaker allows a child to experience avoidable suffering or fails to provide basic essentials for physical, social, and educational development.

Physical Abuse: Occurs when a child suffers a non-accidental injury that may include severe beatings, burns, fractures, bruises, welts, or other physical problems.

Some indicators of physical abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises or burns
  • Repeated injuries or injuries inconsistent with explanation
  • Excessive fear of parent or caregiver
  • Unusual shyness

Sexual Abuse: Occurs when an adult or older child exploits a child for sexual gratification. Sexual abuse includes fondling, sodomy, child prostitution, incest, and forcing or encouraging a child to participate in pornographic activity.

Some indicators of sexual abuse:

Pain and irritation of the genitals
Torn, stained or bloody underwear
Genital discharge
Sudden changes in behavior
In young children, preoccupation with genitals
Emotional Abuse: Occurs when a parent creates a negative environment for a child.

Some indicators of emotional abuse:

  • Speech disorders or eating disorders
  • Flat spot or bald spot on infants head
  • Poor relations with peers
  • Habit disorders such as biting, rocking, head banging

How to report abuse and neglect:

To Report Abuse and Neglect contact the Mississippi Department of Human Services at :


Mississippi requires all persons to make a report when they reasonably suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation of children.