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Table of Content
Information Phase
What is Child Abuse?
Types of Child Abuse
Emotional Abuse
Physical Abuse
Sexual Abuse
Facts about Child Abuse
Creative Phase
What should you do if a child discloses abuse?
Evaluation Phase
Development Phase
Presentation Phase
Implementation Phase

Child Abuse
Information Phase
What is Child Abuse?

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Child abuse doesn't always involve physical violence. Other forms of abuse can hurt just as
much. Every day there are children living hungry, neglected, sexually exploited, and feeling
unloved and fearful. An abusive environment is certainly no way for a child to grow-up. Children
have the right to a safe and nurturing environment.
Child abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional mistreatment, or neglect of children. Leeb,
Paulozzi, Melanson, Simon and Arias (2008) define child maltreatment as any act or series of
acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for
harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur in a child's home, or in the
organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of
child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, and child sexual abuse.
Different jurisdictions have developed their own definitions of what constitutes child abuse for
the purposes of removing a child from his/her family and/or prosecuting a criminal charge.
According to Herrenkohl (2005), child abuse is "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a
parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or
exploitation, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm". A person
who feels the need to abuse or neglect a child may be described as a pedopath.
Parents and adults in your family have a responsibility to look after you and care about you. If
family members do things that hurt you, scare you, or make you feel bad about yourself, then this
isn't okay. When parents or adults harm children or young people, it is called 'child abuse'.
Child abuse refers to any form of physical, psychological, social, emotional or sexual
maltreatment of a child whereby the survival, safety, self-esteem, growth and development of the
child are endangered. A child may display signs indicated in the following text, however this is
not conclusive evidence that abuse is taking place. It is important to be aware of the indicators,
behavioral changes and the presence of these signs in clusters and not just the presence of one
indicator. This list is not exhaustive.
Types of Child Abuse

There are four main types of child abuse:



Failure to give due attention or care to a child resulting in serious emotional or physical harm.
Behavioral Indicators:

Frequent absence from school
Inappropriate clothing for the weather
Dirty clothes
Inappropriate acts or delinquent behavior
Abuse of alcohol/drugs
Begging /stealing food
Frequently tired
Seeks inappropriate affection
Mature for their age
Reports there is no caretaker

Physical Indicators


Poor hygiene
Unattended physical or medical needs
Consistent lack of supervision
Underweight, poor growth, failure to thrive
Constant hunger
Under nourished

Emotional Abuse

Verbal attacks or demeaning actions that impact on a childs self esteem and self worth.
Emotional and psychological maltreatment of children is the most complex type of abuse invisible and difficult to define. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined
emotional abuse as:
"Emotional abuse includes the failure to provide a developmentally appropriate, supportive
environment, including the availability of a primary attachment figure, so that the child can
develop a stable and full range of emotional and social competencies commensurate with her or
his personal potentials and in the context of the society in which the child dwells. There may also
be acts towards the child that cause or have a high probability of causing harm to the child's
health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. These acts must be
reasonably within the control of the parent or person in a relationship of responsibility, trust or
power. Acts include restriction of movement, patterns of belittling, and denigrating,
scapegoating, threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of
hostile or rejecting treatment".
Behavioral Indicators

Withdrawal or aggressive behavior
Overly compliant
Too neat and clean
Habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking, etc.)
Learning disorders
Sleep disorders
Unusual fearfulness
Obsessive compulsive behavior
Extreme behavior
Suicide attempts
Developmental delays

Physical Indicators



Speech disorders
Lags in physical development
Disruptive behavior

Physical Abuse

The intentional use of force against a child resulting in injury or causing bodily harm is called
physical abuse. The World Health Organization defines 'physical abuse' of a child as an incident
resulting in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction or lack of interaction, which is
reasonably within the control of a parent or person in a position of responsibility, power, or trust.
There may be single or repeated incidents.
Behavioral Indicators

Inconsistent explanation for injuries or cannot remember

Wary of adults
Flinch if touched unexpectedly
Extremely aggressive or extremely withdrawn
Feels deserving of punishment
Apprehensive when others cry
Frightened of parents
Afraid to go home

Physical Indicators


Injuries not consistent with explanation

Numerous injuries in varying stages of recovery or healing
Presence of injuries over an extended period of time
Facial injuries
Injuries inconsistent with the childs age and developmental phase

Sexual Abuse

Any form of sexual conduct (touching, exploitation, intercourse) directed at a child. As defined
by the World Health Organization, child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual
activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or that
violates the laws or social taboos of society. Child sexual abuse is evidenced by this activity
between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of
responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the
other person. This may include but is not limited to:
The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful activity
The exploitative use of a child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices
The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials
Behavioral Indicators

Sexual knowledge or play inappropriate to age

Sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge
Poor peer relationships
Delinquent or runaway
Reports sexual assault by caretaker
Change in performance in school
Sleeping disorders
Aggressive behavior
Self-abusive behaviors
Self mutilation

Physical Indicators

Unusual or excessive itching in the genital or anal area

Stained or bloody underwear
Injuries to the vaginal or anal areas
Venereal disease
Difficult in walking or sitting
Pain when urinating
Vaginal/penile discharge
Excessive masturbation
Urinary tract infections

Facts about Child Abuse
Child abuse usually reflects patterns of behavior rather than an isolated incident. The vast
majority of child abusers are parents, relatives, or trusted adults, not strangers. Children rarely lie
about abuse. They are more likely to deny abuse and take back truthful statements than to make
false reports. Child abuse knows no class boundaries.

Creative Phase
The primary responsibility of protecting children from abuse and neglect lies with the families or
the primary caregivers. However, communities and civil society and all other stakeholders are
also responsible for the care and protection of children. The overarching responsibility is that of
the state and it is the state that has to create a protective environment and provide a safety net for
children who fall into vulnerable and exploitative situations.
What should you do if a child discloses abuse?
1. Believe in the child as lack of belief will discourage the abused from disclosing
2. Listen openly and calmly and give the child your full attention
3. Put the child first and put your feelings (anger, frustration or pain) aside
4. Reassure the child and be supportive
5. Tell the child what has happened is not his/her fault
6. Never make promises
7. Write down the facts
8. Record all the facts the child has disclosed to you
9. Avoid interpreting what the child has said, use the childs exact words
10. Contact your local police or your local child welfare agency
Evaluation Phase
Acknowledge that your child may have angry, sad or even guilty feelings about what happened,
but stress that the abuse was not the child's fault. Acknowledge that you would probably need
help in dealing with your own feelings.


Support prevention programs

Attend parenting skills workshops or programs
Act when you see any mistreatment of a child
Talk to your children about their bodies. Explain to them what is appropriate and
inappropriate touching and how to get help if they need it.
Development Phase

Everyone has a duty to report child abuse. As soon as a child discloses abuse to you, contact your
local police or your local child welfare agency. Even if a child has not disclosed abuse to you but
you have reasonable grounds to suspect abuse is taking place, report it immediately. Delaying to
report could place a child at further risk. To make a report does not require absolute certainty.
Anyone who has a reasonable suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection is required
by law to report the information. People who report suspected child abuse or neglect cannot be
sued unless they did so maliciously or without reasonable grounds.
You may consider using the school as a resource, as the staff should have a network of agencies
they work with, and be able to give you advice. You can contact official agencies or self-help
groups. If you are concerned about what action may be taken, ask before you proceed.
Presentation Phase
If you suspect that a child is being abused, seek advice from the police or social services. It is
preferable that you identify yourself and give details. However, if you feel unsure and would like
to discuss the situation, you can speak to many organizations involved in the protection on child
abuse or so called NGOs (and the police and social services) anonymously. Knowing how
damaging abuse is to children, it is up to the adults around them to take responsibility for
stopping it. If a child tells you about abuse:

Stay calm and be reassuring

Find a quiet place to talk

Believe in what you are being told

Listen, but do no press for information

Say that you are glad that the child told you

If it will help the child to cope. say that the abuser has a problem

Say that you will do your best to protect and support the child

If necessary, seek medical help and contact the police or social services

If your child has told another adult, such as a teacher or school nurse, contact them. Their
advice may make it easier to help your child

Determine if this incident may affect how your child reacts at school. It may be advisable
to liaise with your child's teacher, school nurse or head teacher
Implementation Phase

Create opportunities for positive parent and child interaction by:

Sharing information on with parents and all caregivers on child development and appropriate
Hosting a child or family event, such as a family fair, reading night, neighborhood party, etc.
Establishing a parent, child or family support group.
Providing parents with supportive parenting tips in order to strengthen their abilities.
Helping to strengthen your community by getting involved with agencies that support children
and families.
Advocate for children and families through:
Sponsoring a child abuse prevention event, activity, and/or campaign.
Finding ways to support community efforts related to child abuse prevention.
Volunteering for or donating to child abuse prevention efforts.
Asking elected officials to support programs and services that help children and families.
Supporting legislation which addresses childrens issues.
Respond to the needs of children and families by:


Believing children if they tell you theyve been abused and let them know it is not their fault.
Teaching children ways to be safe and how to protect themselves from abuse.
Offering support to a parent who is under stress though babysitting, making a meal, or maybe
just listening.
Knowing the warning signs of child abuse, paying attention to the care of all children and
reporting suspected child abuse.
Encourage positive growth in your community through:
Being a nurturing parent and seeking help when you need it. A good example is always the best
Helping parents facilitate friendships and build strong social supports.
Linking families to needed community services in a positive and respectful manner.
Encouraging schools, community centers, and religious organizations to start programs to
address unmet needs.





Child abuse is one of the greatest tragedies of our times. It doesnt have to be. We can prevent it
by building communities that are committed to families and to the support and services they need
to raise strong, healthy, and successful children.
Child abuse is harm to a child for which there is no reasonable explanation; it includes nonaccidental and /or physical injury to a child. It is an international problem that affects over a
million children each year. Abuse can occur at any age; however infants and young children are
at greatest risk. The devastating effect of abuse can last up to a lifetime and not only harm the
child physically but also emotionally. For this reason, effort to make a greater awareness and
programs of prevention needs to continue to go forth in hopes of ending this tragedy.


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