Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional, and/or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that causes injury or emotional damage to a child. Child abuse happens to both girls and boys. The misuse of power and/or a breach of trust is part of all types of child abuse.

Physical Abuse

Any deliberate physical force or action, by a parent, caregiver, or another adult which results, or could result, in injury to a child. Physical abuse may also result from excessive or inappropriate discipline or violence within the family and is considered abuse regardless of whether or not it was intended to hurt the child. Examples of Physical Abuse include:

  • punching
  • slapping
  • kicking
  • shaking
  • burning
  • choking
  • throwing a child

Emotional & Psychological Abuse

In children, this is defined as behaviours, speech, and actions of parents, caregivers, or other significant figures in a child’s life that have a negative mental impact on the child. It is a pattern of behaviour that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. Examples of Emotional Abuse include:

  • name-calling
  • insulting
  • threatening violence (even without carrying out threats)
  • allowing children to witness the physical or emotional abuse of another
  • withholding love, support, or guidance

Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is defined as the inappropriate exposure or subjection of a child to sexual material, contact, activity or behaviour. It includes any sexual act directed toward a child by an adult or by an older, more powerful child. Examples of Sexual Abuse include:

  • inappropriate sexual touching, whether clothed or unclothed
  • forcing, coercing or persuading a child/youth to engage in any type of sexual act
  • Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor
  • Voyeurism
  • exposing to, or involving a child in pornography or prostitution
  • communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet

The most common perpetrator of sexual abuse is someone the child/youth knows and trusts.


Occurs when a caregiver fails to provide basic needs such as clothing, shelter, a healthy diet, education, good hygiene, supervision, medical and dental care, adequate rest, a safe environment, moral guidance and discipline, exercise, and fresh air.