Child abuse happens when an adult mistreats or neglects a child. The person who abuses is misusing their position of trust and authority. This could be a parent, guardian, paid caregiver or sibling.
Children depend upon adults to protect them, support them and help them survive. Being abused damages their sense of safety. It also makes them more likely to be abused and exploited in the future.
Child abuse is a silent crime. It can happen in all cultures, social classes, and religions. Also, children with disabilities are more at risk for abuse.
What forms does child abuse take?
A child can be abused in different ways. Following are just some examples:
Physical abuse means inflicting physical harm on a child's body. It may involve abusing a child a single time, or it may involve a pattern of incidents. Some examples are:
Shaking, choking, biting, kicking or burning a child
Handling a child roughly when helping them with dressing and going to the bathroom
Using force or restraint in any other harmful way.
Often the parents feel they need to physically punish or discipline the child. They may also think what they are doing is good for the child. An example of this is female genital mutilation (also known as "female circumcision").
Physical abuse sometimes leaves the child with a permanent disability. For example, a child may end up deaf, become paraplegic or have brain or spinal cord injury.
This happens when an adult or adolescent uses a child for sexual purposes. It can also mean exposing them to sexual activity or behaviour. It can include:
touching and kissing a child's breasts or genitals