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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

4. Neglect

1.Physical 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.

2.Sexual Abuse

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.

3.Emotional Abuse

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.