What are the forms of child abuse?

Abuse may be physical, emotional or sexual and takes many forms which often overlap with each other:

  • Physical abuse (non-accidental injury): Intentionally causing a child physical harm. Physical abuse is identified by examining the child.
  • Emotional abuse: Repeated blaming, shouting or verbally rejecting a child. This is often subtle and difficult to prove.
  • Sexual abuse: Using a child for personal sexual gratification, e.g. fondling, voyeurism and exhibitionism, child pornography, masturbation or intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral penetration). The recognition of sexual abuse is often dependent on what the child says as sexual abuse often leaves no physical signs.
  • Failure to thrive: Due to willful neglect and withholding food and care. Lack of love can also result in poor growth.
  • Intentional overdosage or poisoning: purposely giving a child excess medication or a known poison.
  • Medical neglect: The child is intentionally not taken for treatment when obviously ill.
  • Safety neglect: Not keeping the child away from dangerous situations.

Sexual abuse occurs in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power between the child and the abuser. The child either does not consent or understand what is occurring.

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