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Updated 07 August 2015

The five types of child abuse

Child abuse can take many different forms. These not only include sexual and physical abuse, but also emotional abuse and neglect.

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Child abuse is defined as the wilful and unjustifiable infliction of pain and suffering on children. It can take many different forms. These not only include sexual and physical abuse, but also emotional abuse and neglect.

There are five documented types of child abuse: 

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is a chronic pattern of behaviour such as belittling, humiliating and ridiculing a child. It is also the consistent failure of parents or caretakers to provide a child with appropriate support, attention and affection.

Emotional neglect

Emotional neglect is the consistent failure of parents or caretakers to provide a child with appropriate support, attention and affection.

Physical neglect

Physical neglect is the failure to provide children with adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Physical neglect also includes abandonment, expulsion from home and failure to enrol children in school. It is important to distinguish between wilful neglect and a parent’s failure to provide the necessities of life because of poverty and cultural norms.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is defined as acts of physical assault by parents, caretakers or strangers. Physical abuse includes: cuts, fractures, bruises, shaking, burns and internal injuries.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is defined as acts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of minors by parents, caregivers or strangers. It may consist of a single incident or many incidents over a long period of time. It includes fondling a child’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy exhibitionism and sexual exploitation.

 
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