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What is Child Abuse?

There are different types of child abuse. You might also hear people talk about abuse by using the words harm, safeguarding or exploitation.

Always Remember: Abuse is Never Your Choice and is Never Your Fault.

If you are worried that you or someone you know is being abused you can get help and advice through ChildLine or by ringing MARU (0300 123 1116).

physical abuse

Physical Abuse +

Physical abuse is when your parent or carer deliberately hurts you.

Examples of Physical Abuse are:

  • Hitting or kicking you
  • Squeezing or twisting parts of your body
  • Biting or burning
  • Violent shaking or holding you
  • A parent or carer making you swallow something that makes you feel ill, or giving you medicine when you don’t need it

Find out more about Physical Abuse

When an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.

emotional abuse

Emotional Abuse +

You are emotionally abused if your parent or the person caring for you regularly does or says things which make you feel sad, angry, ashamed, or have other negative feelings. It can affect you so much that you may find it difficult to feel positive feelings and have positive relationships.

Examples of emotional abuse would be:

  • Being threatened
  • Being made fun of or made to feel stupid
  • Seeing violence between people who care for you
  • Shouting or breaking things

Find out more about Emotional Abuse

An example of Emotional Abuse would be if a child is being unfairly blamed for everything, all the time, or told they are stupid and made to feel unhappy.

neglect icon

Neglect +

All children and young people have the right to be properly looked after and to have the things they need – like food and drink and a safe home. These are things that you need to be able to grow up healthy and well.

Neglect is when a parent or the person caring for you regularly forgets or deliberately doesn’t give you the right care you need over a long time.

Examples of neglect may be:

  • Not being given enough food or enough healthy food to eat
  • Not being able to keep clean and warm or not having a clean and warm place to sleep or play
  • Not making sure you get to school or to appointments with the doctor or dentist

Find out more about Neglect

Where a child is not being looked after properly, for example, not getting enough to eat or being left alone in dangerous situations.

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Sexual Abuse +

Sexual abuse means that someone is forced, pressurised or tricked into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with someone else. This can happen in normal life and online.

Examples of sexual abuse are:

  • Being touched or kissed on your private parts
  • Being expected to look at, kiss or touch other people’s private parts or have sex
  • Being shown sexual pictures or videos

Find out more about Sexual Abuse

An example of sexual abuse would be where a child has been forced to take part in sexual activities or in the taking of sexual photos.

neglect icon

Bullying +

Bullying is never your fault – whatever people are saying to you, you never deserve to be bullied.

If someone is making you feel bad in any of the ways listed, you are being bullied:

  • being called names, teased or humiliated
  • posting, commenting on or liking nasty photos, videos or posts about you online
  • being pushed, hit or hurt
  • having money or other stuff stolen
  • spreading rumours or starting group chats about you
  • being ignored, left out or made to feel like you're not wanted
  • being threatened, intimidated or sent nasty messages
  • trolling you or commenting on your posts or pictures saying nasty things
  • someone revealing personal details without your permission
  • targeting you over and over again in an online game

Tell someone you trust, like a teacher, who will be able to help you.

Find out more about Types of Bullying

E.g. calling names, damaging property, stealing, spreading rumours, cyberbullying, hurting and getting people into trouble.

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Domestic Abuse +

Domestic abuse is when a grown-up threatens, bullies or hurts another adult in the family. This can happen in any family and you can be affected even if you are not the one being hurt.

Domestic abuse includes:

  • physical violence
  • threats and frightening behaviour
  • controlling someone’s life or stopping them from going to work or to school

It can be very hard to deal with, but remember that it's never your fault.

Contact Safer Futures for adults and children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse and/or sexual violence: 0300 777477

Find out more about Domestic Abuse

When one adult in a family or relationship threatens, bullies or hurts another adult e.g. physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually or financially.

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Exploitation +

Exploitation is when you are being taken advantage of so that someone else can benefit. It is when you are pressurised, forced or tricked into doing something that you do not want to do.

This may be by making you do something against the law, like stealing or hiding stolen things. It may be by making you have sexual relationships with people that you don’t know, or making you take sexual pictures and then using them to threaten you.

Sometimes it is really clear that you are being abused. Sometimes it is more difficult to know or realise because some older friends will trick you into thinking that what is happening is nice, fun, good for you, or that you owe someone so you feel you need to do what they ask. This is still abuse.

Exploitation includes being made to:

  • steal, carry or sell drugs
  • work for someone unfairly without being paid
  • have a sexual relationship with people you don’t know
  • film or stream sexual activity
  • being made to do things as part of a gang

Find out more about Exploitation

You are being taken advantage of so that someone else can benefit. It is when you are pressurised, forced or tricked into doing something that you do not want to do.


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