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Child Abuse

Child abuse is any action or inaction by an individual (e.g. parent or caregiver) that endangers or damages a child’s physical or emotional well-being.

Forms of Child Abuse

Child abuse may be in the form of:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect

Who Can be a Victim of Child Abuse

The Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) protects any person under the age of 18 years from abuse or neglect.

Effects of Child Abuse on Children

When a child experiences violence, the effects can be physical and/or psychological. Physical abuse can result in injury and even death.

Abuse may cause:

  • Negative emotions such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, guilt and fear, as well as at-risk/harmful behaviours such as aggression, self-harm, eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse and runaway attempts
  • Cognitive impairment such as low attention span, slow development, and poor educational results
  • Social difficulties such as forming close relationships with family members, peers and romantic relationships later in life

Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Adulthood

International research shows that victims of childhood sexual violence generally have more health issues and often develop problems with intimate relationships.

Effects on mental health

Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic dress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and lack of trust in others are reported more often by people who have experienced childhood sexual violence.

Effects on physical health

Physical health conditions such as Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unintended pregnancy, alcohol or other drug abuse, hypertension and obesity are all reported more frequently among people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Recovery from child abuse

Early identification of at-risk behaviours and seeking help early can prevent abuse from occurring or recurring. Having a strong support system is also crucial to the child’s recovery. To help make recovery easier, the victim’s friends and family should express their support and not invalidate the victim’s feelings.

Break The Silence

I want to report domestic violence

I am experiencing abuse

I witnessed abuse

Contact the National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment Helpline (NAVH) or the police

Seek help from a Family Service Centre, Protection Specialist Centre, Family Justice Courts, medical professional or temporary shelter

Find out how to support someone who is abused or safely interrupt the abuse