What Is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is when parents or caregivers intentionally hurt a child, or fail to protect a child in their care. It’s against the law. If you are concerned about the well-being or safety of a child, contact CAS at 519 455 9000.

Kinds Of Child Abuse:

What Is Physical Abuse?

Physical abuse is any deliberate physical force or action (usually by a parent or caregiver) resulting, or possibly resulting, in injury to a child. It is different from what is considered reasonable discipline.

Physical Abuse Can Include:

  • Punching

  • Slapping

  • Beating

  • Shaking

  • Burning

  • Biting or throwing a child

Handling babies roughly - whether in anger or playfulness - is extremely dangerous. Shaking can cause serious injury, including brain damage, blindness and even death.

Punishing children physically can lead to physical abuse if parents or caregivers lose control and strike a child in anger.

Recognizing the Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical Indicators

Behavioural Indicators

  • injuries that don't fit the explanation

  • presence of serveral injuries that are at different stages

  • facial injuries in infants and preschool children

  • injuries don't fit with the child's age and developmental stage

  • cannot recall how injuries occured or offers an explanation that doesn't fit

  • wary of adults

  • may cringe or flinch if touched unexpectedly

  • infants my display a vacant stare

  • extremely agressive or extremely withdrawn

What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is when a child is used for the sexual gratification of an adult or an older child. Coercion (physical, psychological or emotional) is intrinsic to sexual abuse. This is what distinguishes it from sexual exploration with peers.

Sexual Abuse Includes:

  • Touching a child for a sexual purpose

  • Encouraging or forcing a child to touch another person in a sexual way

  • Encouraging or forcing a child to participate in any sexual activity

  • Telling a child to touch him or herself for sexual purposes

Sexual Abuse Takes Many Forms:

  • Sexual intercourse

  • Exposing a child's private areas

  • Indecent phone calls

  • Fondling for sexual purposes

  • Watching a child undress for sexual pleasure

  • Allowing a child to look at, or perform in pornographic pictures or videos

  • Allowing a child to engage in prostitution

Recognizing the Signs of Sexual Abuse

Physical Indicators

Behavioural Indicators

  • unusual or excessive itching in the genital or anal area

  • torn, stained, or bloody underwear

  • pregnancy

  • injuries to the genital or anal areas (e.g. bruising, swelling, or infection)

  • sexually transmitted infection

  • age-inappropriate play with toys, self, or others displaying explicit sexual acts

  • age-inappropriate sexually explicit drawing and/or descriptions

  • bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge

  • seductive behaviours

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is when an individual attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth. It includes excessive, aggressive or unreasonable demands beyond the child’s capacity.

Emotional Abuse Includes:

  • Constant criticizing

  • Teasing, belittling, insulting, rejecting, ignoring, or isolating a child

  • Failing to provide a child with love, emotional support, and guidance

Recognizing the Signs of Emotional Abuse

Physical Indicators

Behavioural Indicators

  • bed-wetting that is non-medical

  • frequent psychosomatic complaints, headaches, nausea, abdominal pains

  • child fails to thrive

  • severe depression

  • extreme withdrawal or aggressiveness

  • overly compliant, too well-mannered, too neat or clean

  • extreme attention seeking

  • displays extreme inhibition in play

What Is Neglect?

Neglect is when a parent or caregiver fails to meet a child's basic needs:

  • Food

  • Clothing

  • Shelter

  • Sleep

  • Medical attention

  • Education

  • Protection from harm

 This Can Occur When Parents:

  •  Do not know about appropriate care for children

  • Cannot adequately supervise their children

  • Are unable to plan ahead

Young children should never be left unattended. This includes leaving a child alone in a car even if you lock the doors and are gone for only a few minutes

Recognizing the Signs of Neglect

Physical Indicators

Behavioural Indicators

  • poor hygiene

  • unattended physical or medical needs (e.g. glasses, dental work)

  • consistent lack of supervision

  • pale, listless, unkempt

  • frequent absence from school

  • inappropriate clothing for the weather, dirty clothes

  • frequently does not bring a lunch

Other reasons for child abuse investigations

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