5 Main Types of Child Abuse

Child protection is the responsibility of everyone. Child abuse disclosures are increasing and are affecting every aspect of a child’s life. The impact of abuse on later life cannot be underestimated.

There are many other types which professionals have to be aware of. And these types for abuse can affect anyone of any age. We recognize them as child abuse, but they equally apply to teens, young adults and vulnerable adults.

The 5 most recognised forms of abuse were defined within previous guidance which is now out of date. However, from a practical point of view it is useful to be aware of these categories as they are regularly recogonised by the courts and child protection teams.

Physical

This harm is not accidental.

Physical abuse is deliberate harm to a child which causes bruises, cuts, burns or broken bones. In babies, shaking or hitting them can cause non-accidental head injuries which can have life-altering consequences.

Any physical abuse can have serious consequences for children as they grow up and can cause long lasting harm.

Emotional

This is sometimes called psychological abuse. Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment. It can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child. It can also involve isolating or ignoring a child.

Emotional abuse often happens at the same time as neglect or other abuse.

Neglect

This is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs. It is likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may happen during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer :

not to providing adequate food and clothing; shelter, including exclusion from home;
failing to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care- takers;
or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include a failure to meet a child’s basic emotional needs.

Sexual

The age of consent is 16years old. Below that age, the law states a young person cannot consent to sexual acts.

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities can include acts such as kissing, touching or fondling the child’s genitals or breasts, vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex .

They may include non-contact activities, such as children looking at, or being involved in the production of pornographic material or watching sexual activities.

Research by the NSPCC found that 72 percent of sexually abused children do not tell anyone about what happened at the time, and that 31 percent still have not told anyone by early adulthood.

Bullying

This can be defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour. It is usually repeated over a period of time, and occurs where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves. It can take many forms, but the three main types are physical, verbal and emotional.

The damage inflicted by bullying can often be underestimated. Bullying can cause significant distress to children so much so it affects their health and development.

If you are concerned about a young person or vulnerable adult, speak to your designated safeguarding officer.

Want to keep on top of your safeguarding obligations, join Kate and other child protection professionals in The Safeguarding Academy community.

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Katherine T Young Ltd & Kate Young disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.

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