what is child abuse?

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There are different forms of child abuse. These include neglect, sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

neglect

Child neglect is the continued failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child with the basic things needed for his or her proper growth and development, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical and dental care and adequate supervision.

sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when someone involves a child or young person in a sexual activity by using their power over them or taking advantage of their trust.

Often children or young people are bribed or threatened physically and psychologically to make them participate in the activity.

Sexual abuse is a crime.

physical abuse

Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury or pattern of injuries to a child or young person caused by a parent, caregiver or any other person.

It includes but is not limited to injuries which are caused by excessive discipline, severe beatings or shakings, cigarette burns, attempted strangulation and female genital mutilation.

Injuries include bruising, lacerations or welts, burns, fractures or dislocation of joints.

Hitting a child or young person around the head or neck and/or using a stick, belt or other object to discipline or punishing a child or young person (in a non-trivial way) is a crime.

emotional abuse or psychological harm

Serious psychological harm can occur where the behaviour of their parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self esteem of the child or young person, resulting in serious emotional disturbance or psychological trauma.

Although it is possible for ‘one-off’ incidents to cause serious harm, in general it is the frequency, persistence and duration of the parental or carer behaviour that is instrumental in defining the consequences for the child or young person.

This can include a range of behaviours such as excessive criticism, withholding affection, exposure to domestic violence, intimidation or threatening behaviour.

Learn the signs of abuse.

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)