ABUSE - What is Abuse?
What is Abuse?
What is abuse?
Abuse occurs when a child or young person (someone who is 17
years of age or under) is harmed by another person, either
physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually.
If you or someone you know are in immediate danger call the
police on 999 or 101.
Talk to Childline 0800 11 11 if you are worried about signs
Being mistreated or abused (sometimes called ‘Significant Harm')
is defined as Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect or Emotional
If you need some help because you are being hurt in any of the
ways described above, or if you of know someone else who is, you
should talk to someone about this, for example a teacher or a youth
worker, or another professional person that you know and trust.
If you don’t feel like you can talk to someone you know there
are help lines and other professionals that you can talk to. It can
be really hard to tell someone but there are lots of people who can
Types of Abuse
When an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting,
shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.
Possible signs of physical abuse may include:
- unexplained injuries or burns;
- making up stories or refusing to explain their injuries;
- wearing a lot of clothes i.e. long sleeved tops; even in hot
- not wanting to be watched undressing for PE or avoiding sports
- talking about running away;
- fear of doctors examination;
- aggressive or violent towards others
- not wanting anyone to touch them;
- talking a lot about being punished at home for small problems
such as not doing the washing up properly;
- being worried or afraid about people talking to their parents/
carers or family.
This would happen, for instance, when a child is all the time
being unfairly blamed for everything, or told they are stupid and
made to feel unhappy.
Possible signs of emotional abuse may include:
- delays surrounding physical, mental and emotional
- unusual difficulties in communicating or talking;
- putting themselves down constantly (i.e. I am stupid, ugly,
- overreaction to mistakes, punishing themselves if they get
- extreme fear of any new situation;saying they deserve pain or
bad things to happen to them;
- unusual behaviour i.e. rocking on chairs, hair twisting,
- having no interest in anything or anyone;
- becoming aggressive;
- being pushed to be the best in school and sports beyond what
they can or want to do.
Where a child is not being looked after properly, for example,
not getting enough to eat or being left alone in dangerous
Possible signs of neglect may include:
- lack of food;
- poor personal hygiene
- constant tiredness
- poor state of clothing i.e. holes in
clothes, old or dirty clothes;
- extreme loss of weight, or weight
- constantly asking for things like food
- not having anything of their own in class
i.e. books pens etc.
An example of sexual abuse would be where a child has been
forced to take part in sexual activities or in the taking of rude
How do I know if my friend is being
Although the following signs do not necessarily mean your friend
is being abused, it is important to tell a trusted
adult if you think they are showing a number of these
signs so that someone can help to find out if they need
help. Your school or college should have a
trained child protection officer who can talk
through any concerns with you.
Possible signs of sexual abuse may
- talking a lot about sex and giving
detailed descriptions. Your friend may appear to know more
about sex or sexual activities than you or your other friends the
- becoming depressed and talking about
harming themselves in some way;
- running away or talking about running away
- having personality changes such as
becoming insecure or clinging;
- spending a lot of time alone and not
'joining in' with groups of friends;
- appearing a lot younger than they are -
behaving like a 'baby' i.e. sucking their thumb or carrying around
a cuddly toy;
- having a sudden loss of appetite or
- suddenly starting to draw sexually
- not allowing anyone to touch
There are a number of organisations you can speak to if you
think you or a friend may be in danger, if in immediate
danger, call the police on 999.
If you are worried about how you or someone you know is being
treated tell someone. Call Childline on 0800 11 11 it's a
private and confidential service, meaning that what you say stays
between you and ChildLine (If there are immediate, serious concerns
for you or someone else's safety, they may contact someone else
following a discussion with you first)
can get advice and help from NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or get
help via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.