Child Abuse

Child abuse can take many forms and has a huge impact on children’s ability to grow and develop. The effects can be severe and long term if they do not receive the support and nuturing they require and deserve.

Checkout the parenting section for some tips on how to create a supportive and encouraging environment for children to grow healthy and strong.

Types of Child Abuse

Physical abuse is when someone bigger than the child inflicts physical harm. Apart from punching, hitting, burning and other physical acts, physical abuse also includes things like giving a child alcohol or drugs, or other potentially poisonous substances. Physical and emotional harm can also result from witnessing or experiencing domestic/family violence.

Emotional abuse is behaviour which destroys a child’s confidence such as telling them they are no good or worthless, not showing affection or positive attention, verbal abuse & threats, name calling, locking them up, or not allowing them to participate in social activities.

Neglect is where a carer fails to provide developmentally appropriate food, shelter, care or supervision.

Sexual abuse is a crime where an adult or someone bigger than the child, and who is usually known to the child, uses their power and authority over them, taking advantage of their trust and respect to involve or expose the child to sexual activity which often progresses in severity and frequency over time. Often it also involves special gifts, tricks, rewards and bribery, and/or threats or force, all which assist offenders to manipulate the child and deceive protective adults.

Factors which influence the impact of abuse

  • age/development stage when abuse began
  • how long the abuse took place
  • how often it occured
  • their relationship with the abuser
  • strength of other protective relationships
  • reactions of others to the abuse
  • what help or intervention was provided
  • What to do if a child tells you they are being hurt

    NSW Child Protection Interagency recommends that you can help by:
  • listening to what children have to say
  • stay calm & believe what they have to say
  • avoid making promises you cant keep
  • reassure and comfort the child
  • avoid reacting with shock or negatively
  • let them know that the abuse is not their fault
  • tell them that it was right to tell and that it is NOT okay for adults to hurt children
  • let them know that you will need to talk to other people to get help
  • Child sexual assault

    is particularly complex due to the nature and dynamics of the abusive relationship. In most cases the offender is known to the child and family, and often the process of “grooming’, tricking and forcing the child into abusive situations may occur gradually over time. CSA can happen anywhere, anytime whenever the offender has access to children, and even when other people are around.

    Below is a brief overview of some of the key themes identified by Finkelhor:



    Protection & Loyalty:

    Power & Powerlessness:

    Potential Effects:

    The impact of these complex dynamics can affect the childs physical, psychological and social development right into adulthood. It is important to seek out help both for children who are currently being abused, but also for survivors of abuse who are struggling to manage the long lasting effects.