Child Abuse and Neglect

What Is Child Abuse?

According to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA), child abuse and neglect is defined as the following: "Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation" or "An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."

Sexual abuse: any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other. Forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. Non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet.
Physical abuse: Non-accidental physical injury to the child.
Emotional abuse: Injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child.
Child Neglect: Failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide for the child to the degree that the child is threatened with harm.
For more information on the definitions of abuse.

Other resources: 
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Protecting Child Welfare and Preventing Abuse: A Guide for Social Workers and Educational Professionals


For the first time in Mennonite Church USA history, we have data regarding the incidence of sexual abuse or violation experienced by church members. According to the 2006 Church Member Profile, Mennonite Church USA church members report experiencing sexual abuse or violation in the following percentages: 

  Women Men
 Ever 21.0% 5.6%
 Yes, as a Child 11.9% 3.5%
 Yes, as a Teen 7.8% 2.0%
 Yes, as an Adult 4.2% 0.5%

This means that more than 1 in 5 women in MC USA congregations have experienced sexual abuse or violation, most while they were children or teens. For men, the incidence of abuse experienced before the age of 20 is 5.5%.  

From the CDC 2019: Child Sexual Abuse and Child Abuse and Neglect.









93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their offender, 34.2% of attackers were family members and 58.7% were acquaintances and only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. 

How Do I Report?

Call either Child Protective Services (CPS).  

VIRTUS online offers this site with a link to information on how to report child abuse in each state. For most states, they provide the name of the responsible state agency, the corresponding state statutes, plus agency websites and phone numbers as available.

You could also call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and they will direct you.

Here is a summary of state laws regarding clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.

*This study was conducted by the Young Center for the Study of Anabaptist and Pietist Groups and included responses from 2216 randomly selected members of Mennonite Church USA. The analysis was conducted by Conrad L. Kanagy and paid for by the MCC U.S. Women's Advocacy Program.