Child abuse (as defined in Act 38 of 2005) means any form of harm or ill-treatment deliberately inflicted on a child, and includes:

Assaulting a child or inflicting any other form of deliberate injury to a child;

Sexually abusing a child or allowing a child to be sexually abused;

Bullying by another child;

A labour practice that exploits a child; or

Exposing or subjecting a child to behavior that may harm the child psychologically or emotionally. 







A. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse of a child is any sexual act between an adult and a child, including penetration, intercourse, incest, rape, oral sex, and sodomy. 
Other examples include:
  • Fondling - Touching or kissing a child's genitals, making a child fondle an adult's genitals.
  • Violations of bodily privacy - Forcing a child to undress, spying on a child in the bathroom or bedroom.
  • Exposing children to adult sexuality - Performing sexual acts in front of a child, exposing genitals, telling "dirty" stories, showing pornography to a child.
  • Commercial exploitation - Sexual exploitation through child prostitution or child pornography.
Regardless of the child's behavior or reactions, it is the responsibility of the adult not to engage in sexual acts with children. Sexual abuse is never the child's fault. 
Sexual child abusers can be:
  • Fathers, mothers, siblings, or other relatives.
  • Childcare professionals or babysitters.
  • Clergy, teachers, or athletic coaches.
  • Foster parents or host families of foreign-exchange students.
  • Neighbors or friends.
  • Strangers. 


Types of sexual assault (Click)

Types of sexual abuse (Click)

B. Physical Abuse

Physical child abuse is an injury resulting from physical aggression. Even if the injury was not intended, the act is considered physical abuse. 
The injury from physical child abuse may be the result of:
  • Beating, slapping, or hitting.
  • Pushing, shaking, kicking, or throwing.
  • Pinching, biting, choking, or hair-pulling.
  • Burning with cigarettes, scalding water, or other hot objects.
  • Severe physical punishment.
Is physical punishment the same as physical abuse?
Physical abuse is an injury resulting from physical aggression. Physical punishment is the use of physical force with the intent of inflicting bodily pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control. When physical punishment gets out of control it can become physical abuse.
Some other specific types of physical child abuse are:
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome - Shaking a baby or toddler can cause serious head injuries.
  • Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome - Inducing medical illness in a child or wrongly convincing others that a child is sick is both dangerous and abusive.
  • Drug use during pregnancy - Drug and alcohol use during pregnancy or lactation can be harmful to your child, leading to problems such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Hundreds of thousands of children are physically abused each year by someone close to them, and thousands of children die from the injuries. 


Fear of adults. What is physical abuse? (Click) 

C. Neglect

Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child's basic needs. A single act of neglect might not be considered child abuse, but repeated neglect is definitely child abuse.

Child neglect is a very common type of child abuse. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, more children suffer from neglect than from physical and sexual abuse combined. Yet victims are not often identified, primarily because neglect is a type of child abuse that is an act of omission - of not doing something. 

There are three basic types of neglect; 

  • physical neglect, 
  • educational neglect
  • emotional neglect. 


Types of child abuse (Click)

Child Neglect (Click) 

What is Emotional Neglect (Click)

 D. Emotional Abuse

Emotional child abuse is any attitude, behavior, or failure to act that interferes with a child's mental health or social development. It can range from a simple verbal insult to an extreme form of punishment.
Emotional abuse is almost always present when another form of abuse is found. Surprisingly, emotional abuse can have more long-lasting negative psychiatric effects than either physical abuse or sexual abuse.

Other names for emotional abuse are:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Psychological maltreatment or psychological abuse
Emotional child abuse can come from adults or from other children:
  • Parents or caregivers
  • Teachers or athletic coaches
  • Siblings
  • Bullies at school or elsewhere
  • Middle- and high-school girls in social cliquesOther names for emotional abuse are:
  • Verbal abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Psychological maltreatment or psychological abuse


Children at risk (Click) 

What is Emotional Abuse (Click)