What is child abuse?

The NSPCC defines child abuse as:

‘Child abuse is when a child is intentionally harmed by an adult or another child – it can be over a period of time but can also be a one-off action. It can be physical, sexual or emotional and it can happen in person or online. It can also be a lack of love, care and attention – this is neglect.’


Physical Abuse

When an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Is the continual emotional mistreatment of a child, which can include deliberately trying to scare, humiliate, isolate or ignore a child.

Sexual Abuse

Forcing or coercing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.  Sexual abuse includes a range of different acts and behaviours.


When a child is not being looked after properly; for example, not getting enough to eat, or being left alone in dangerous situations.

Complex Safeguarding

Criminal activity (often organised) or behaviour associated with criminality, involving children and adults, where there is exploitation and/or a clear or implied safeguarding concern.  You can learn more by visiting our Complex Safeguarding page