The paper highlights the urgent issues of complex and multifaceted social and legal phenomenon of «child abuse». The definitions of «child abuse» in family law and relevant explanations of the Supreme Court in relation to Article 69 of the Family Code are shown. Within the criminal protection of children, it is determined that erroneous and deliberately incorrect qualification of actions of those responsible for committing child abuse that occurs in the practice of the preliminary investigation and inquiry occurs due to the imperfection of criminal law, including the lack of the concept of «child abuse», which is used as a mandatory feature in the art. 156 of the Criminal Code (failure to child-rearing responsibilities). This gap in the criminal law and personnel incompetence allow the guilty evade responsibility, as they are often refused a suit, or ordered to dismiss the criminal case or termination of proceedings for various reasons. The necessity of a legislative definition of «child abuse», shall be due to the following: analysis of available scientific debate in the doctrine of criminal law, the definition of «child abuse» in Article 156 of the Criminal Code; lighting statistical parameters, confirming the high level of latency of this category of crime, but because of difficulty with their identification and qualification; generalization of judicial practice, which also does not have a uniform approach to solving the problems mentioned above, but allowed to identify the main forms of manifestation of «child abuse» as a result of which there are specific consequences of distorting the child’s personality. Summing up, for the criminal law to protect the rights of the child and the right of a practical approach, the concept of «child abuse» should be legally defined as the category of the legal institution carries risks too broad or, on the contrary, overly narrow its interpretation, which may lead to abuse in law enforcement, as well as leave the guilty unpunished, and defenseless children.