What is abuse

Child abuse occurs when a child is neglected, harmed or not provided with proper care. Children may be abused in many settings, for example, in a family, in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them, or more rarely, by a stranger.

Types of abuse

There are different types of abuse and a child may suffer more than one of them.

  • Physical abuse

    Physical abuse is the deliberate physical injury to a child, or the willful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering. This may include hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, confinement to a room or cot, or inappropriately giving drugs to control behaviour.

  • Emotional abuse

    Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.

  • Sexual abuse

    Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts.


  • Neglect

    Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical, emotional and/or psychological needs, likely to result in significant harm. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate foods, shelter and clothing; failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger; failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment; lack of stimulation or lack of supervision. 

Child Sexual Exploitation - a guide for Parents/Carers of children and young people.

Child sexual exploitation affects children and young people from all walks of life, across NI. As a parent you have an important role to play in protecting children/young people from this horrific form of abuse. The leaflet outlines what child sexual exploitation is; how to spot the signs, and what to do.

Contact details for the NSPCC helpline and PSNI are among the information provided.