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Child abuse

Abuse is a deliberate act of ill treatment that can harm or is likely to cause harm to a child's safety, well-being, dignity and development. Abuse includes all forms of physical, sexual, psychological or emotional ill treatment.

The term ‘abuse’ is, in some contexts, used to refer primarily to such acts when committed ‘in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust, or power’ such as by someone who has the care of the child including parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child even temporarily such as a teacher, a community worker, a babysitter or nanny etc. In most contexts though, ‘child abuse’ is understood to refer to all such acts of ill treatment including when committed by a stranger. Child abuse will be committed regardless of any justification or reason that may be provided for the ill treatment including discipline, legal sanction, economic necessity, the child's own consent to it, or in the name of cultural and religious practice.


Physical abuse involves the use of violent physical force so as to cause actual or likely physical injury or suffering, (e.g. hitting, shaking, burning, female genital mutilation, torture.)

Emotional or psychological abuse includes humiliating and degrading treatment such as bad name calling, constant criticism, belittling, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation)

Sexual abuse includes all forms of sexual violence including incest, early and forced marriage, rape, involvement in pornography, and sexual slavery. Child sexual abuse may also includes indecent touching or exposure, using sexually explicit language towards a child and showing children pornographic material or sexual abuse on the internet.

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