What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention.

An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online.

A child at risk is a child who:

is experiencing or is at risk of abuse, neglect or other kinds of harm (see below; and
has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs)

Physical abuse – hitting, slapping, over or misuse of medication, undue restraint, or inappropriate sanctions.

Emotional / psychological abuse – threats of harm or abandonment, coercive control, humiliation, verbal or racial abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

Sexual abuse – rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the child has not or could not consent and/or was pressured into consenting. Insert link to CSE page

Financial abuse – this category will be less prevalent for a child but indicators could be:

  • unusual activity in a bank account by a counter signatory;
  • not meeting their needs for care and support which are provided through direct payments; or
  • complaints that personal property is missing.

Neglect – failure to access medical care or services, negligence in the face of risk taking, failure to give prescribed medication, failure to assist in personal hygiene or the provision of food, shelter, clothing; emotional neglect.

Domestic abuse  – Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships. Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behavior between people in a relationship. Domestic abuse can also include emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse.

If you suspect a person is at immediate risk of harm call 999 and speak to the Police.