Types of child abuse

The word abuse covers many different forms, here you can find out more information about child abuse, child sexual exploitationdomestic abuse, honor based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Abuse can happen to any child or young person. This is regardless of their age, gender, race or ability. Abusers are usually known to (and trusted by) the child and family; they can be adults, male or female, or another young person.


The abuser may be a family member, or they may be someone the child encounters in a residential setting or in the community, including during sports and leisure activities. An individual may abuse or neglect a child directly, or may be responsible for abuse because they fail to prevent another person harming that child.

Physical Abuse
This is when someone physically hurts a child or young person on purpose. Physical abuse can include:
  • hitting
  • shaking
  • poisoning
  • burning
  • drowning
  • suffocating
  • making a child ill.
Emotional Abuse
This abuse can damage self-esteem and severely affect friendships, school and home life. Examples of emotional abuse include:
  • being made to feel worthless, wrong or unhappy
  • being unfairly blamed
  • being bullied
  • being made to feel frightened or in danger
  • seeing or hearing domestic violence within the home.
Sexual Abuse
This is when a child or young person is told, asked or forced to take part in sexual activity. The ways in which a young person can be sexually abused include:
  • making them do sexual things either to themselves or with other people
  • involving them in the making of films or taking photos that involve sexual activity
  • making them watch sexual behaviour.

Neglect
This is when a child or young person is not properly looked after. This could damage their health or wellbeing. A child's basic needs include:
  • food and shelter
  • safety within the home
  • proper clothing
  • good cleanliness
  • warmth
  • receiving necessary medical treatment
  • protection from physical and emotional harm or danger.