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Reporting Child Abuse in Your Program

Virtual Lab School

Supplemental Training Reporting Child Abuse in Your Program

Child abuse and neglect can occur in a child’s home, within a child and youth program, or in the larger community. As a child and youth professional/provider, you are a mandated reporter, so it is important that you are knowledgeable about what child abuse and neglect might look like inside and outside of your program and that you understand the required reporting procedures. In this training, you will learn about different types of abuse, the prevalence of abuse among military children, the long-term impacts of abuse, and how to report suspected incidences of abuse and neglect. This training addresses the difficult topic of child abuse and neglect and may elicit strong emotions. Please take care when participating.

Requirement from the DoD Office of Military Family Readiness Policy

The following training is required for all Child and Youth Program (CYP) personnel and family child care (FCC) providers. It should be completed by September 30, 2023. This training can be completed individually or in group training contexts by viewing the online content or printing a copy of this material. Read more in the official memorandum from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policyofficial memorandum from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

DODI 6060.02:

Child abuse prevention, identification, and reporting

Suggested Audience(s):

All CYP personnel and FCC providers

Clock Hours:



Staff will examine various types of abuse and child maltreatment scenarios and identify appropriate reporting procedures in child and youth programs.


  • NAEYC Standard: 1B. Building positive relationships between teachers and children
  • MSA: To maintain a safe, healthy, learning environment
  • CDA: To maintain a safe, healthy, learning environment

Access & Completion:

This training series will not be listed in traditional VLS website PD catalogs or dashboards and will currently be accessed via homepage news releases. This training is accessible to anyone visiting the VLS site. Users do not need to log in or to have an account to view, print, or complete the training. The VLS website will not track progress or issue certificates for this training. Please consult the leadership team at your installation regarding the method that your Service may be using to track and verify completion of this training.

Read more about this series of trainings in the VLS News Release or the OSD memorandum.



It may be difficult for some of us to imagine anyone harming a child; however, child abuse and neglect pose a serious public health concern. Three million reports of child abuse are made each year in the United States, and an estimated one in four children have experienced abuse or neglect at some point in their lives (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2023). Furthermore, five children die each day in the United States as a result of abuse (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2023). While these statistics are alarming, the good news is that child abuse and neglect can be prevented and you can help. In this training, you will learn about common factors that may increase the risk of an individual abusing or neglecting a child. As a child and youth professional, it’s important to be aware that you may also experience risk factors that can lead to child abuse or neglect including caregiver stress at home, unsupportive work environments, work-related stress or conflict, and inappropriate expectations for children’s development and behavior. While we may never understand why an individual abuses or neglects children, it is critical that we understand our role in preventing and reporting these incidents. You can do your part in keeping children safe by understanding what child abuse and neglect may look like inside and outside of child and youth programs, familiarizing yourself with reporting procedures, and confidently reporting all incidences of suspected child maltreatment.

The purpose of this training is to help you understand your obligations to report child maltreatment and the actions you must take if you suspect abuse and neglect in a child’s home, in your community, or in a Department of Defense Child and Youth Program or sanctioned activity.

Risk Factors Unique to Military Children and Families

Child abuse occurs across every ethnicity, culture, religion, socioeconomic group, and at all educational levels. Experts have identified common factors that may increase the risk of experiencing or perpetrating child abuse or neglect, including a history of adverse experiences, a lack of knowledge about child development, absence of a support system, and increased stress or crisis. As a child and youth professional in a military setting (including child development centers, school-age centers, youth centers, and family child care homes), you work with an at-risk population of children and families. Military children experience unique risk factors for child abuse and neglect because of the additional stressors their families experience because of military service. These stressors include multiple deployments, frequent relocations, separations from support networks (I.e., extended family and friends), combat-related injuries, and other transitions that are related to military life. In addition to these military-related concerns, military families also experience stressors experienced by all families, such as financial challenges, divorce, illness etc. These stressors impact children’s emotions and behaviors, as well as appropriate responses and interactions from adults, both of which place children at increased risk for maltreatment.

Because you work with children, families, and colleagues that experience unique stressors that put them at risk for child abuse and neglect (and you may experience these unique stressors yourself), it is important that you understand the ways child abuse and neglect might appear both inside and outside of the child and youth program so that you are prepared to report suspected child maltreatment, if needed. Child development centers, school-age programs, youth centers, and family child care homes all have safeguards in place to prevent child maltreatment and to protect children from harm, however situations of abuse still occur, and it is critical that you understand your obligation to report any suspected incidences of institutional abuse.

What is Child Maltreatment

According to the CDC, child maltreatment includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (e.g., teacher, coach, clergy). The Department of Defense (DoD) further defines child abuse as “the physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect of a child by a parent, guardian, foster parent, or by a caregiver, whether the caregiver is intrafamilial or extrafamilial, under circumstances indicating the child’s welfare is harmed or threatened. Such acts by a sibling, other family member, or other person shall be deemed child abuse only when the individual is providing care under express or implied agreement with the parent, guardian, or foster parent.” The DoD identifies four main categories of child maltreatment: neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse (including exposure to domestic violence), and sexual abuse.


Neglect includes the failure to provide for a child's basic needs despite being financially able to do so. Neglect may be:

  • Physical, when a caregiver fails to provide necessary food, shelter, or appropriate supervision
  • Medical, when a caregiver fails to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment (unless treatment is against the religious beliefs of the parent or caregiver)
  • Educational, when a caregiver fails to educate a child or attend to special education needs
  • Emotional, when a caregiver fails to provide attention to a child's emotional needs, fails to provide psychological care, or permits the child to use alcohol or drugs
  • Exposure to physical hazards, inattention to the child’s safety by exposing the child to physical dangers or home hazards
  • Promoting Illegal acts, forcing, tricking, enticing, threatening or pressuring a child to commit illegal acts.
  • Abandonment, when a parent or caregiver’s whereabouts cannot be determined, or they have failed to provide reasonable support for specific period of time

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is defined as the non-accidental use of physical force by a parent, caregiver, or other person responsible for a child. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to:

  • Punching
  • Beating
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Shaking
  • Throwing
  • Stabbing
  • Choking
  • Hitting with an open hand or slapping
  • Scalding or Burning
  • Poisoning
  • Dropping
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Pinching
  • Scratching
  • Grabbing or yanking limbs or body
  • Restraining or squeezing
  • Applying force to throat
  • Holding under water
  • Any other action that intentionally causes physical harm

Physical abuse can include hitting with an object such as sticks, straps, belts, hangers, or electrical cords. Physical abuse can cause injuries that range from minor bruises to severe fractures or even death.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse includes a pattern of behaviors that have a negative effect on the child's psychological well-being, including criticism, threats, or rejections as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse may occur when a child is:

  • Ignored, when an adult may not look at or respond to a child
  • Rejected, when an adult actively refuses a child by denying their needs or ridiculing them
  • Isolated, when a child is prevented from having interactions with peers, family members, or other adults
  • Verbally assaulted, when an adult belittles, berates, degrades, shames, ridicules, humiliates, or other similar behaviors directed toward a child
  • Threatened, including but not limited to, indicating or implying future physical abuse, abandonment, or sexual abuse
  • Terrorized, when an adult threatens or bullies the child and creates a climate of fear that the child or a loved one may be placed in a dangerous situation or threatened with harm
  • Harmed or indicating that the caregiver will harm a person or thing that the child cares about
  • A witness to or victim of domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence can be auditory, visual, or inferred. Children who witness domestic violence can suffer severe emotional and development difficulties.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes sexual activity by a parent or caregiver towards or involving a child. It may include:

  • Exposing the child’s genitals or anus or, if the child is a female, the child’s breasts
  • Exposing the alleged abuser’s genitals or anus or, if the alleged abuser is a female, the alleged abuser’s breasts, to a child
  • Fondling or groping a child's genitals
  • Making a child touch an adult's sexual organs
  • Penetration of any kind that does not have a valid medical purpose
  • Incest, rape, and sodomy
  • Exposing oneself to a child
  • Exposing children to pornographic material
  • Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse
  • Masturbating in front of a child
  • Having the child masturbate
  • Involving a child in prostitution
  • Involving a child in the production of any sexually explicit images
  • Coercion of a child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, sexual conduct

Where Does Child Abuse and Neglect Occur?

Child abuse and neglect can happen inside or outside of your program. You should be familiar with two distinct types of child abuse and neglect: familial and institutional.

Familial abuse or neglect occurs when a child is in the care of a parent or family member. This could be in the child’s home, while in the car with family, at the store, in the parking lot before school starts, or other places in the community. The act of abuse or neglect is committed by a parent, guardian, or other person designated to provide care for the child, including siblings and babysitters.

Examples of suspected familial abuse or neglect include:

  • Finding circular burn marks, the size of and shape of a cigarette or bite marks on a child’s body
  • Witnessing a family member strike a child with a closed fist in the parking lot
  • Overhearing a parent calling their child ugly and stupid as they are leaving the program
  • Having a four-year-old report they were left home alone
  • Having a parent refuse to bring in a replacement for rescue medication when a child has an enduring condition that requires it

Institutional abuse or neglect occurs outside the home in community or private settings, such as schools, religious organizations, community groups, or during extracurricular activities, while the child is in the care of a non-family member. This type of abuse or neglect is also known as “out-of-home” or “extra-familial” abuse or neglect. This type of abuse typically involves a child and an adult in a supervisory role, like a teacher, caregiver, or volunteer. Throughout this training, institutional abuse will refer to abuse or neglect which may occur at DoD-sponsored facilities, programs, or activities. This includes abuse or neglect which may occur in child development centers, family child care homes, school-age care programs, installation homework or computer centers, mentoring or tutoring programs, sports programs, instructional classes, chapel programs, scouts, Morale Welfare and Recreation programs, teen centers, youth programs, and other DoD-sponsored activities.

Examples of suspected institutional abuse and neglect include:

  • A staff member/provider hits or strikes a child
  • A staff member/provider uses corporal punishment (I.e., hitting, spanking, pinching, pushing, whipping, striking, or other physical punishment),
  • A staff member/provider leaves children unattended on the playground
  • A staff member takes an unscheduled break and leaves the classroom out of ratio and/or children unsupervised
  • A coach joins in when children begin ridiculing another child's body size and calls the child "fat and lazy"
  • A staff member/provider forces a child to stay in their soiled clothes after a toileting accident so they "learn a lesson"
  • A staff member/provider uses physical force to make a child stay on their cot when refusing to sleep
  • A staff member/provider withholds food as “punishment”
  • A staff member/provider threatens a child or makes threatening remarks about a child
  • A staff member/provider makes derogatory comments about a child’s behavior, appearance, or family

As you reflect on institutional abuse, it is important to remember that there are certain types of guidance and discipline practices that have the potential to inflict harm. The following practices may be considered child abuse or neglect and are not authorized in child and youth programs and may be considered child abuse or neglect:

  • Corporal punishment: You may not, under any circumstances, strike, hit, whip, spank, pinch, yank, push, drop, intentionally knock over, confine, or use any other form of physical punishment on a child of any age.
  • Withholding physical needs: You may not, under any circumstances, withhold food, sleep, physical activity, or other needs, like toileting, from a child as punishment.
  • Yelling, shaming, belittling, or threatening a child: You may not, under any circumstances, intentionally make a child fear for his or her physical or psychological safety. You may not call children hurtful names, threaten children, or make children feel shame.
  • Isolating a child: You may not punish a child by leaving him or her alone (e.g., leaving a child on the playground alone because he did not line up with the group) or by putting the child in an enclosed space like a closet, restroom, or cardboard box.
  • Binding or restricting a child’s movements: You may not punish a child by preventing him or her from being able to move or speak (e.g., covering a child’s mouth or hands with tape).

Take a moment to think about the scenarios below. What would you say or do if you observed a family member, fellow staff member, or family child care provider engaging in the following situations? Consider how you might respond in the moment, whether you would make a report, and what additional support you might need.

Scenario 1

You are working the closing shift at the child development center and while the center closed ten minutes ago, you are still waiting for Xavier’s family to arrive to pick him up. Xavier’s father is deployed, and you know that his mom has expressed she is experiencing a lot of stress with this recent deployment. You have made several phone calls, but Xavier’s mom is not answering, and you are starting to worry. You have already made arrangements for Xavier to be picked up by an emergency contact, when Xavier’s mother finally arrives at the program. You smell alcohol on her breath, and she is slurring her words.

Scenario 2

You are a new toddler teacher and have only been working at the child development center for about 5 weeks. Tommy and Stella are playing in the block area and Tommy begins to hit Stella and pull her hair. Kim, the other toddler teacher, rushes over to the block area and slaps Tommy’s hand and pulls his hair. Tommy begins to cry. Kim says, “No hitting or hair pulling, Tommy. See you don’t like it either!”

Scenario 3

You are a staff member in a school-age program. At pick up, Mrs. Jones, a mother of a child in your program, asks if she can speak with you privately. During this conversation, she shares that she has concerns about Kayla, another child in the school-age program. Mrs. Jones shares that they are neighbors with Kayla’s family. She tells you that some nights she can hear Kayla’s father screaming and cursing at Kayla and last night when Kayla was playing outside, and he came after her with a belt. Mrs. Jones expresses that she didn’t actually see him strike Kayla but that she is concerned for her safety.

Each of these scenarios reflects a situation in which a child is being harmed or is at risk of harm because of an adult failing to provide care. You may respond differently to each of these situations in the moment, but these are all incidents that require a report.

Why Make a Report?

Children’s brains and bodies grow and develop rapidly during the early years, and it is the secure, trusting relationships with parents and caregivers that allow children to feel safe to explore and learn. Children that feel safe and secure in their relationships grow and develop much differently than children that do not have this experience. Repeated exposure to negative experiences, including abuse and neglect, negatively impact a child’s developing brain. Research has shown that child development is adversely affected by chronic toxic stress including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and neglect. The prolonged activation of the stress response system disrupts the architecture of the brain. The more adverse experiences that a child has, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health impairments. Children that have been abused are more likely to exhibit cognitive delays, including deficits in IQ scores, language abilities, and academic achievement. Additionally, survivors of abuse are more likely to have physical health impairments, mental health disorders, and social emotional difficulties.

The impact of abuse and neglect can resonate through a child’s life into adulthood. Research shows that children who experience abuse and neglect are more likely to experience the following as adults:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Increased rate of re-victimization
  • Increased rate of aggressive, abusive behaviors
  • Criminal activity
  • Alienation, withdrawal, and isolation
  • Physical and mental health problems
  • Learning and emotional disabilities
  • Lack of parenting skills
  • Poor relationship skills

As you have just learned, child abuse and neglect can have serious lifelong impacts. People who work with and care for children are often the first to notice the signs that a child is experiencing abuse or neglect. You do not have to know for certain that a child is experiencing abuse or neglect. As a mandated reporter, you are required to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect to child protective services, the Family Advocacy Program, and to law enforcement whether it is occurring on or off a military installation. Your report can make life better for the child, family member, or other caregivers involved. When you take the time to recognize and report child maltreatment, you are making a significant difference in a child’s life and helping the adults in the child’s life get the support they need.

Legal and Ethical Obligation to Report

As a child and youth staff member, you have a legal and ethical professional responsibility to protect children from harm. That is your most important responsibility and is highlighted in the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s code of professional ethics. Given this important ethical responsibility, it is also important to recognize that you have a legal obligation to report when you suspect a child may be in harm’s way. As a child and youth professional, you are a mandated reporter. This means you are legally required to immediately report suspicions of abuse or neglect to appropriate authorities including Child Protective Services, Military Family Advocacy Programs, and law enforcement.

Department of Defense Reporting Requirements

You play a key role in ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the children and youth under your care and supervision. All individuals working or volunteering with children and teens in a DoD-sponsored facility or activity are mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the installation Family Advocacy Program (FAP), the DoD program designated to address child abuse and neglect in military families. In addition, Department of Defense personnel who are considered “covered professionals” are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect, regardless of whether the incident occurred on or off the installation, to the appropriate local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency, and law enforcement. CPS investigates the allegation, and FAP works in collaboration with CPS to ensure the safety of the child and to provide treatment and resources for the parents, as appropriate. You should ensure you are following your installation’s reporting policies and procedures, informing your chain of command when a report is made.

If you know or suspect a child has been abused or neglected, whether by a parent or staff member/provider/volunteer on or off an installation, follow your Service’s procedures for reporting your concern to the installation FAP, CPS agency, and law enforcement officials. You can also call your state's child abuse reporting hotline, or Childhelp at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453). Each installation that supports military families has a FAP point of contact to receive calls concerning the safety and welfare of children. The number to call is publicized throughout the military community. You can also call your installation's Family Support Center or visit the installation’s website for information.

In most States, child abuse calls can be made anonymously to Child Protective Services (CPS) or your installation’s FAP, however the contact information of the reporting person is almost always collected. As mandated reporters, you should provide your contact information for documentation and follow-up purposes. You will be asked for identifying information about the child and family and specific information about the nature of your concern, including:

  • Name of victim
  • Age of victim
  • Name and contact information for parents or guardians
  • Reasons for suspected abuse or neglect
  • Description and location of victim’s physical injuries (if applicable)
  • Information freely disclosed by victim
  • Current location of victim
  • Known information regarding incident or chronology of events
  • You may be asked if you are a mandated reporter
  • You may be asked if you would like to disclose your identity, or you may be required to do so, as several states require mandated reporters to disclose their identity

It is important to provide FAP or law enforcement with accurate information. As a mandated reporter is important not to:

  • Investigate the situation yourself
  • Question or interview the child if they disclose indications of abuse or neglect
  • Bargain with or bribe the child to disclose something
  • Paraphrase or change the words the child has said
  • Notify the parent that you made a report
  • Make a report in a public place where others can overhear
  • Share information in the report with others
  • Promise to keep it a secret if a child discloses indications of abuse or neglect

As a mandated reporter, it is good practice to document your report. Some information you may want to document is:

  • Who you spoke to during the report
  • Date and what time you made the report
  • What information you were able to provide

When FAP staff receive a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, they will first make a plan to ensure the immediate safety and well-being of the child. They will also notify the commander of the child’s active-duty parent or parents, law enforcement, a medical treatment facility, and Child Welfare Services. These players work as a team to ensure that the child is protected, and that the family receives the services needed to build and maintain healthy relationships. As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to report all incidences of suspected child abuse and neglect. Qualified individuals and investigative authorities are responsible for assessing, investigating and determining what behaviors are substantiated abuse.

Regardless of your role in the program, it is unlikely you will ever hear the result of your report. Confidentiality laws protect families’ privacy. Also know that it is not uncommon for families to withdraw their child from the program after an allegation of abuse. The report you made may be the last piece of information you have about a child’s situation, but you should feel confident that you fulfilled your responsibilities. If the child and the family remain in your program, your team can continue to help and support the family by focusing on enhancing protective factors (as discussed in the previous training) in the family and community.

Family Advocacy Program: Reporting Procedures

Watch this video to learn more about reporting procedures from the Family Advocacy Program.

Concerns that Impact Reporting

Making a report to the Family Advocacy office, Child Protective Services and law enforcement takes courage, and it is critical that you are confident in your abilities to make a report when necessary. Ultimately, your call could protect a child and connect the family or staff member with the services and supports needed to reduce stress and strengthen protective factors.

It is a normal response to feel anxious and second-guess yourself when you witness or suspect a situation that makes you uncomfortable. A few reasons why you may question whether you should report an incident include:

  1. You are shocked or frightened by what you saw or heard.

    It is normal to feel a variety of emotions when making a report, including anger, anxiety, guilt, and fear. Your job is to keep children safe, and while you may feel these emotions, you have to process these emotions and seek support.

  2. You worry that you overreacted.

    As a mandated reporter, it is your duty to report abuse and neglect, even if it is just suspected. You are not responsible for investigating the situation. It is your role to report observed and suspected abuse or neglect. It is your responsibility to keep children safe. The important thing is to make the call, even if you are unsure of your suspicion, to protect the safety of the child.

  3. You are anxious that if you make a report, the individual suspected of abuse and neglect will find out it was you.

    All jurisdictions have provisions in statute to maintain the confidentiality of abuse and neglect records. The identity of the reporter is specifically protected from disclosure to the alleged individual in 44 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. This protection is maintained even when other information from the report may be disclosed. Release of the reporter’s identity is allowed in some jurisdictions under specific circumstances or to specific departments or officials, for example, when information is needed for investigations, assessments, or upon a finding that the reporter knowingly made a false report.

  4. You worry that it may negatively impact the future of a Service member’s or colleague's career.

    Staff members sometimes worry that reporting suspected child abuse or neglect might impact a Service member’s career or get their colleague fired. You may also feel worried about making a report that involves a colleague in a higher-ranking position or that has spent a longer time in the program. These factors can make staff members hesitant to make a report, but thinking about what happens to the career of a family member, friend, or colleague has no legal bearing on the requirement to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Regardless of your position in relation to the concerning adult, it is your job to keep children safe. You are a mandated reporter and must report your suspicions. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences, both for the child and for yourself. Remember, you cannot be retaliated against in the workplace for your report. Talk to someone you trust, such as a program manager or next level in chain of command if you need support.

  5. You worry that you will be sued or punished for making a report.

    Sometimes staff members/providers worry that they could be sued or punished for making a report. This is not the case. You are protected by law as a mandated reporter. A family or colleague cannot sue you for making a report in good faith. Likewise, you cannot be retaliated against for making a report about a suspected incident in your program.

There are few professional experiences as stressful as suspecting and reporting child abuse or neglect. Before and after the report, reporters can feel a range of emotions. These emotions can be even more complicated when the suspected child abuse or neglect occurs in your own program or within a family that you have established a close relationship. The concerning adult may be one of your colleagues or friends. You may be neighbors or attend the same community events. You may worry that you will be judged or socially excluded because of the report. You may also feel pressure to protect the reputation of your program or of the family. All of these emotions are natural, but you must remember your obligation to protect children from harm. You have an ethical responsibility to keep children safe and uphold professional standards in your program. Allowing inappropriate actions and behaviors by fellow CYP personnel to go unreported not only goes against your legal obligation to report suspected child abuse but it creates a culture that accepts putting children in harm's way. We must create a culture of safeguarding children and youth. If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, or if anyone in your program is behaving in a way that is questionable towards children, a report must be made.


Adverse Experiences
Traumatic events that occur during childhood which effect one’s physical, emotional, and mental health.
Alleged Abuser
An individual reported to the FAP for allegedly having committed child abuse and neglect or domestic abuse.
Child Abuse
The physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect of a child by a parent, guardian, foster parent, or by a caregiver, whether the caregiver is intrafamilial or extrafamilial, under circumstances indicating the child’s welfare is harmed or threatened. Such acts by a sibling, other family member, or other person shall be deemed child abuse only when the individual is providing care under express or implied agreement with the parent, guardian, or foster parent.
Child Maltreatment
Includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (e.g., teacher, coach, clergy).
DoD-sanctioned activity
A U.S. Government activity or a nongovernmental activity authorized by appropriate DoD officials to perform supervisory functions over programs that provide care and supervision of children or youth on DoD controlled property. The care and supervision of children or youth may be either its primary function or incidental in carrying out another mission (e.g., medical care). Examples include child development centers, DoD dependents schools, or youth activities, school age/latch key programs, family child care providers, and child care services that may be conducted as a part of a chaplain’s program or as part of another morale, welfare, or recreation program.
Emotional Abuse
A type of abuse including non-accidental acts resulting in an adverse effect upon a child’s psychological well-being.
Familial Abuse
Abuse or neglect that is perpetrated by the child’s parent, guardian, or family member.
Family Advocacy Program (FAP)
A program designed to address prevention, identification, evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, follow-up, and reporting of child abuse and neglect, domestic abuse, and problematic sexual behavior in children and youth. FAPs consist of coordinated efforts designed to prevent and intervene in cases that impact military family readiness by promoting healthy relationships and families.
Institutional Abuse
Abuse or neglect that occurs by someone outside the home who is responsible for the care or supervision of the child (e.g., a teacher, caregiver, coach, priest).
Mandated Reporter
A person who is legally required to report observed or suspected abuse.
Egregious acts or omissions below the lower bounds of normal caregiving, which shows striking disregard for a child’s well-being, under circumstances indicating that the child’s welfare has been harmed or threatened by the deprivation of age-appropriate care.
Physical Abuse
Non-accidental use of physical force on the part of the child’s caregiver.
Risk Factors
Conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or society that are associated with increased risk of abuse or neglect.
Sexual Abuse
The involvement of a child in any sexual touching, depiction, or activity.

Additional Virtual Lab School Support:

When applied consistently, the strategies reviewed in this training help to support child and youth program staff in understanding reporting procedures for suspected child abuse and neglect. You can find additional strategies, tools, and resources to support child abuse identification and reporting in the following VLS lessons:

In addition to the above training content, the following tools can be used to help staff think more deeply about scenarios that may involve child abuse and neglect and whether to make a report. If you are a Training & Curriculum Specialist or another leader responsible for professional development or child abuse-related training, consider using these resources to lead small or large group discussions or role-play scenarios so that staff members or providers understand what constitutes child abuse and neglect, how to respond in the moment if they observe a child being harmed, and when and how to make a report.

References & Resources

In addition to this training and the VLS lessons within this training, these outside resources can be helpful in gathering more information on child abuse prevention, identification, and reporting.

Center for the Study of Social Policy (n.d.). Strengthening Families: A Protective Factors Framework.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Violence Prevention.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). What is child abuse and neglect? Recognizing the signs and symptoms. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

Military Family Advocacy Programs. (2020).

Military One Source. (n.d.).

Military One Source (2022). How to report child abuse or neglect in the military.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). (n.d.) Child maltreatment in military families: A fact sheet for providers.

Seibel, N. L., Britt, D., Gillespie, L. G., & Parlakian, R. (2006). Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect.  Zero to Three: Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2023). Child Maltreatment 2021.