Child abuse From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Child abuse is the physical or psychological maltreatment of a child by an adult, often synonymous with the term child maltreatment or the term child abuse and neglect. There are many forms of abuse and neglect and many governments have developed their own legal definition of what constitutes child maltreatment for the purposes of removing a child and/or prosecuting a criminal charge. In the United States, the Federal Government puts out a full definition of child abuse and neglect and creates a summary of each State definition. To view, go to Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws  that is part of the 2005 State Statute series by the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Effects of child abuse on the child and development The U.S. National Adoption Center found that 52% of adoptable children (meaning those children in U.S. foster care) freed for adoption had symptoms of attachment disorder. A study by Dante Cicchetti found that 80% of abused and maltreat infants exhibited attachment disorder symptoms (disorganized subtype).   Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect and physical abuse are at risk of developing severe psychiatric problems.   These children are likely to develop reactive attachment disorder.   These children may be described as experiencing trauma-attachment problems. The trauma experienced is the result of abuse or neglect, inflicted by a primary caregiver, which disrupts the normal development of secure attachment. Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.    Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms,  as well as anxiety, depressive, and acting-out symptoms Causes Circumstances that place families under extraordinary stress ―for instance, poverty, divorce, sickness, disability, lack of parental skills― sometimes take their toll in child maltreatment. Many of these factors may contribute to family stress that can result in child abuse or neglect. Understanding the root causes of abuse can help better determine the best methods of prevention and treatment. Most parents don't hurt or neglect their children intentionally. Many themselves were abused or neglected. Prevention Given these possible causes, most professionals agree that there are three levels of prevention services; primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention Primary prevention consists of activities that are targeted at the community level. These activities are meant to impact families prior to any allegations of abuse and neglect. Primary prevention services include public education activities, parent education classes that are open to anyone in the community, and family support programs. Primary prevention can be difficult to measure because you are attempting to impact something before it happens, an unknown variable. Secondary prevention Secondary prevention consists of activities targeted to families that have one or more risk factors including families with substance abuse, teen parents, parents of special need children, single parents, and low income families. Secondary prevention services include parent education classes targeted for high risk parents, respite care for parents of a child with a disability, or home visiting programs for new parents. Tertiary prevention Tertiary prevention consists of activities targeted to families that have confirmed or unconfirmed child abuse and neglect reports. These families have already demonstrated the need for intervention, with or without court supervision. Prevention supporters consider 'tertiary prevention' synonymous with treatment, and entirely different from prevention through family support.