What is Abuse?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines child abuse and neglect as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g. clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.

According to the National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S each year. Abuse comes in many different forms such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. It happens more often than you think. Five children die every day because of abuse and neglect.

Agencies working together

The goals of a multi-disciplinary collaborative investigative approach to allegations of child physical and sexual abuse are to provide for the safety of the child; to reduce the trauma experienced by the child; to enhance the investigative process while eliminating duplication of efforts; to promote successful prosecution of child abuse cases; to facilitate the healing process for primary and secondary victims of abuse.

The CAC works to achieve these goals and to ensure that children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them.  The CAC provides a warm comfortable center for professionals from Erie County to come together and work collaboratively in investigating allegations of abuse and providing services to abused children.  These cases are managed by a multidisciplinary team made up of district attorney, law enforcement, child protection, medical and mental health professionals, victim advocates and CAC staff.  This approach promotes coordination of the investigation which enhances accountability and assists in allowing victims to heal.


Learn the professional terminology used in child abuse investigations.

Child Abuse is defined as a child less than 18 years of age whose parent or caretaker, guardian or person legally responsible inflicts or allows to be inflicted injury that causes or creates a substantial risk of death or serious protracted disfigurement, or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health or protracted loss of impairment of a bodily organ.

  • Creates or allows to be created substantial risk of physical injury likely to result in death or serious protracted disfigurement.
  • Any sexual act that is inflicted or allows to be inflicted.

Maltreatment (Neglect) is defined as a child less than 18 years of age whose parent, guardian or person legally responsible-physical, mental or emotional condition is in imminent danger of impairment due to lack of adequate food, clothing, shelter or education.

  • Inadequate guardianship, excessive corporal punishment, misuse of drug and alcohol abuse that poses risk to the child.
  • Abandonment as defined by law.