Child abuse is a range of maltreatment. In addition to physical harm and sexual abuse, it also includes serious neglect of a child's emotional and physical needs and forms of emotional abuse such as incessant berating of a child. Severe emotional abuse, such as being extremely cold during infancy, can result in worse emotional and learning problems in children than emotionally responsive parents who are physically abusive. The earlier the maltreatment the more severe the consequences.
In 1983, approximately 1.3 million cases of suspected child abuse were reported to various government agencies and authorities in the USA. This is a 900% increase over two decades.
Child abuse means not only incest, sexual violence, battery and murder. It included all the punishments still regarded by allegedly loving parents as necessary for a "proper" upbringing: smacks, spanking, verbal threats, humiliation, ridicule, criticism and emotional coldness, as well as circumcision and invasive obstetric practices.