Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse is not just physical violence directed at a child. It is any form of maltreatment by an adult, which is violent or threatening for the child. This includes neglect.
When child abuse occurs in the home and the abuser is, for example, the child’s parent or care-giver, this is a form of domestic violence .
But children are sometimes abused by other adults on whom they are dependent, such as day nursery workers, teachers and sports coaches.
Sometimes abuse is intentional, but not always. If parents or caregivers are no longer able to cope with caring for the child, this can result in dysfunctional behaviour and abuse.
About Child AbuseWhat is child abuse and neglect?
“Child abuse” includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse and/or neglect. It also addresses a pattern of abuse and risks of harm. Some definitions include:
Child abuse isn’t just about black eyes. While physical abuse is shocking due to the marks it leaves, not all signs of child abuse are as obvious. Ignoring a child’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, exposing them to sexual situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid are also forms of child abuse and neglect—and they can leave deep, lasting scars on kids.
Regardless of the type of abuse, the result is serious emotional harm. But there is help available. If you suspect a child is suffering from abuse or neglect, it’s important to speak out. By catching the problem as early as possible, both the child and the abuser can get the help they need.
To start, it’s important to separate the myths from the facts about child abuse and neglect:
Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect
Myth: It’s only abuse if it’s violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Child neglect, or sexual and emotional abuse can inflict just as much damage. Since the signs are not always as obvious, other people may be less likely to intervene.
Myth: Most child abusers are strangers. Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.
Myth: Only bad people abuse their children Fact: Not all abusive parents or guardians intentionally harm their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse problems.
Myth: Abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families Fact: Abuse and neglect doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. These behaviors cross all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
Myth: Abused children always grow up to be abusers. Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.