Child abuse: A complex set of behaviors that include child neglect and the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children. Although most people think first of physical abuse when they hear the term child abuse, physical abuse makes up only a small percentage of reported cases. Physical abuse is defined as physical injury inflicted upon the child with cruel and/or malicious intent, although the law recognizes that in some cases the parent or caretaker may not have intended to hurt the child; rather, the injury may have resulted from excessive discipline or physical punishment. Physical abuse includes punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, shaking, or otherwise physically harming a child. Injuries that can be fatal include severe head trauma, shaken baby syndrome, trauma to the abdomen or chest, scalding, burns, drowning, suffocation, and poisoning. Child abuse should always be reported, investigated, and stopped.