What is Abuse?
Child abuse can be broken down into four main categories. All four can cause permanent physical and/or psychological traumas to children. The definitions below are not exhaustive but can assist everyone in identifying abuse and helping a child that is being abused. If anyone suspects child abuse, they must either report it immediately to police or contact SOS 1056 and file a complaint. Complaints at 1056 may be anonymous. The prosecutors’ office for minors and the police investigate all complaints.
The four types of abuse are:
1. Physical abuse
2. Sexual abuse
3. Emotional abuse
Physical abuse is any non-accidental physical injury to a child, even if the person did not intend to cause the injury that was inflicted. Injuries can include any redness, bruises, swelling, cuts, or broken bones.
Examples of physical abuse include:
- Hitting anywhere aside from the bum.
- Beating, whipping, punching, slapping, pushing, pinching, biting, choking or hair pulling.
- Use of any type of instrument such as a belt, spoon, or shoe
- Any discipline that is not age appropriate.For example spanking a newborn.
Sexual abuse is any contact, physical or otherwise, between an adult and a child, for the sexual gratification of the adult. Children cannot consent to any type of sexual activity and therefore silence by a child never constitutes consent.
The adult is always responsible for his/her actions.
Sexual Abuse Includes:
- Touching with any part of your body the sexual genitals of a child or inviting him/her touch an adult’s genitals.
- Vaginal, oral or anal penetration by any means.
- Exposing a child to any type of pornographic material or telling the child any erotic stories.
- Spying or watching a child undress or ensuring that a child sees an adult in that state.
- Subjecting the child to participate in any type of sexual activity with another child or another adult.
Emotional abuse is any type of behavior that endangers a child’s psychological or emotional development. It can be verbal or psychological abuse.
Examples of emotional abuse include:
- Yelling or screaming.
- Telling a child s/he is “stupid”, “useless” “bad”, “a mistake”.
- Comparing a child with others.
- No physical and/or emotional affection- not hugging or kissing a child or saying “I love you”.
- Shaming or humiliating a child.
- Threatening to leave a child or harm the child.
- Using extreme forms of punishment such as locking him/her in a dark room, tying him/her up etc.
Every parent or guardian of a child has an obligation to provide certain necessities to the child in their care. This includes providing a child with a clean, healthy environment, appropriate nourishment and clothing, appropriate medical care and access to education.
Examples of Physical Neglect include:
- Not providing adequate food, housing or clothing.
- Not ensuring the above are sufficiently clean that the child’s health is not jeopardized.
- Not supervising the child or leaving the child alone.
- Denial of medical care including immunizations or necessary medication.
- Not enrolling the child in a school or failing to ensure the child attends.