Child Abuse

Child Abuse is defined in the Children Young Persons and their Families Act as “the harming (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect or deprivation of any child or young person.

It includes:

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when a child’s emotional, psychological or social well-being and sense of worth is continually battered.

It can include a pattern of criticizing, rejecting, degrading, ignoring, isolating, corrupting, exploiting and terrorizing a child. It may result from exposure to family violence or involvement in illegal or anti-social activities.

Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms of abuse occur.

The effects of this form of abuse are not always immediate or visible. The long-lasting effects of emotional abuse may only become evident as a child becomes older and begins to show difficult or disturbing behaviors or symptoms.


Neglect is a pattern of behavior which occurs over a period of time and results in impaired functioning or development of a child. It is the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs.

Neglect may be:

Physical – failure to provide necessary basic needs of food, shelter or warmth

Medical – failure to seek, obtain or follow through with medical care for the child

Abandonment – leaving a child young person in any situation without arranging necessary care for them and with no intention of returning

Neglectful supervision – failure to provide developmentally appropriate or legally required supervision

Refusal to assume parental responsibility – unwillingness or inability to provide appropriate care for a child

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can be caused from punching, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning or throwing the child. Physical abuse may also result from excessive or inappropriate discipline or violence within the family, and is considered abuse regardless of whether or not it was intended to hurt the child. Physical abuse may be the result of a single episode or of a series of episodes.

Injuries to a child may vary in severity and range from minor bruising, burns, welts or bite marks, major fractures of the long bones or skull, to its most extreme form, the death of a child.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes acts or behaviors where an adult, older or more powerful person uses a child for a sexual purpose.

While it may involve a stranger, most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows and trusts.

It includes, any touching for sexual purpose, fondling of breasts, buttocks, genitals, oral sex, sexual intercourse, an adult exposing themselves to the child, or seeking to have a child touch them for a sexual purpose. It also includes voyeurism, photographing children inappropriately, involving the child in pornographic activities or prostitution or using the internet and phone to initiate sexual conversations with children.


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