Defining Abuse and Neglect

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Defining abuse and neglect:

Defining abuse and neglect Safeguarding Group 1

Child abuse is…:

Child abuse is… Not restricted to any socio-economic group/culture/age group/gender/ability Caused by somebody inflicting harm, or failing to prevent harm Damaging to the child’s health, educational attainment and emotional well-being Child abuse is not the child’s fault

What is abuse and neglect?:

What is abuse and neglect? Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institution or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children. (Working Together 2010:37-38) ‘Working Together defines four types of abuse: Physical abuse Emotional abuse Sexual abuse Neglect These four types do not define the experience for children, who often experience a range of abuse and neglect, but they do make it easier for us to communicate what we mean.

Physical abuse:

Physical abuse Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. (Working Together 2010:38)

Emotional abuse:

Emotional abuse The abuse or neglect of any child can have a major long-term effect on all aspects of their development, health and well-being. Safeguarding children is every individual’s and every organisation’s responsibility. Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment 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 include not giving a child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying ) causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone. (Working Together 2010:38)

Emotional abuse … in other words:

Emotional abuse … in other words Telling/demonstrating to children that they are unloved and worthless Silencing and ridiculing children Age inappropriate expectations (over/under) Over protection and limitation Bullying Inducing fear Corrupting and exploiting children

Sexual abuse:

Sexual abuse Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching inside clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways., or grooming a child in preparation of abuse (including over the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts, as can other children. (Working Together 2010:38)

Sexual abuse … in other words:

Sexual abuse … in other words Forcing/enticing sexual activities Touching or not touching Making children watch or be in sexual images Encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways Can be perpetrated by anyone, adult, child, male, female


Neglect Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical or emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-takers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. (Working Together 2010:39)

Neglect ... in other words:

Neglect ... in other words Not meeting a child’s needs – likely to lead to impairment of health or development In pregnancy: substance misuse Unresponsiveness to child’s emotional needs Failing to: –Give enough food shelter, clothing –Protect the child from harm –Ensure adequate supervision (care-givers) –Ensure medical care

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