Child abuse is when anyone under the age of 18 is either being harmed or not properly looked after. There are four main categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Find out more about each below, as well as the warning signs that a child may be being abused.
Physical abuse is when someone hurts a child or young person on purpose.
Examples of physical abuse are:
hitting, slapping, shaking or throwing
burning or scalding
drowning, suffocating or choking
pushing or kicking
inappropriate restraint or false imprisonment
disciplining a child using an implement such as a belt, stick or flex
fabricating or inducing an illness or ill health
Signs and symptoms of physical abuse in children can include:
unexplained recurrent injuries, marks or burns
covering injuries with clothing even in hot weather
fear of physical contact and shrinking back if touched
The above are just a few examples.
Sexual abuse is when a child is enticed or forced to take part in sexual activities. This kind of abuse does not always involve a high level of violence and the child may or may not be aware of what is happening.
Examples of sexual abuse are:
causing or inciting a child to watch or engage in sexual activities
encouraging a child to behave in sexually inappropriate ways
involving a child in looking at sexual images or videos
involving a child in the production of sexual images or videos
grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet)
Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in children can include:
extreme reactions such as depression, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, running away, overdoses or anorexia
personality changes such as becoming insecure or clinging
being isolated or withdrawn
medical problems such as chronic itching, pain in the genitals or venereal diseases