Children can be abused in their own home, in another person's home, in a community setting or in an institution, such as a children's home or educational setting. The abuser may be an adult or another child or children.
There are four main types of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. Some of the forms in which they are inflicted are detailed below. It can be inflicted intentionally or by a person who knows it is taking place not making sure it does not happen.
There are many forms of physical abuse. The most common includes:
On rare occasions parents or carers may either make up symptoms or try to make a child ill by inducing symptoms. This is known as 'Fabricated Illness' or 'Induced Illness'.
This involves either forcing a child or young person, or encouraging them, to take part in sexual activities irrespective of whether they are aware of what is happening or not.
Sexual abuse may involve touching a child or young person's genital areas, making them touch someone else's, involving them in the production of pornographic material, making them watch sexual material or behaviour, or making them do sexual things either to themselves or with other people.
This is the most insidious and pervasive type of abuse, which affects the child or young person's innate sense of self-esteem and image.
Emotional abuse can be inflicted in a number of ways, for example:
In contrast, it can also be caused by suffocating love which may exhibit itself by preventing them being involved in normal activities that are age appropriate, such as going out or mixing with other people. This could be either because the caregiver is over protective and anticipates danger in normal social activities; or wants to reduce their social contacts in order that the child remains dependent on them.
Neglect is when a child or young person's basic physical or emotional needs are not met if this could result in their health or development being damaged.
All children and young people should feel confident that their physical needs will be provided for until they are adults. This includes the provision of:
There are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. Under s31 (10) of the Children Act 2004, the question of whether harm suffered by a child is significant relates specifically to the child's health and development. Their health or development should be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child and the parenting that we would reasonably expect them to receive from their parent/carer.
To understand and identify significant harm, it is necessary to consider: