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Abuse is any action taken by another person that causes harm or distress. This can be physical or mental. Find details below of the different kinds of abuse, and don't forget to speak to someone if you think a child or young person is being abused or may be at risk.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts someone else. This could be with their hands, feet or by using an object or weapon to cause pain. This could include: hitting, kicking, biting, burning, throwing, shaking, slapping, hair pulling or making them swallow something they don't want to.

No one has the right to hurt anyone. Physical abuse can take place once or over a long period of time. It is not right and you should report it.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse includes:

  • Constantly criticising someone, name calling, telling them they are fat, ugly, stupid, lazy or worthless
  • Humiliating someone or embarrassing them in front of others
  • Never saying anything nice or showing affection
  • Controlling someone, always telling someone what they should do, what they should wear, where they should go, even what to think and feel

Emotional abuse is wrong and it should be reported.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be when someone is pressurised, forced, tricked or intimidated into taking part in sexual activity. This can include kissing, touching the child or young person's genitals (private parts) or breasts, intercourse or oral sex, looking or taking part in pornography or being pressured not to use contraception. It can happen to anyone - boys and girls.

If you think a child or young person is being sexually abused, please report it.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse. It involves perpetrators grooming children and young people in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them for their own gain. The victim will be tricked into believing they are in a loving relationship.

View more information about exploitation

Relationship Abuse

Abuse in relationships can happen to anyone. It’s not normal, it’s never OK and definitely not part of a healthy relationship.  It isn’t always physical, it can be emotional and sexual abuse too and unfortunately it can happen to children and young people.


Neglect is when people who are supposed to be looking after children and young people  such as parents or carers (including foster carers and family friends) don't take care of them or provide the things you need. They may also make it hard for children and young people to take care of themselves. This is neglect.

Neglect could include:

  • Frequently going hungry
  • Having to go to school in dirty clothes
  • Not being taken to the doctors when you are ill
  • Being left at home regularly and for long periods of time
  • Living in dangerous, possibly violent surroundings with drugs or alcohol around

Domestic abuse at home

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.

There are different kinds of abuse that can happen in different contexts. The most prevalent type of domestic abuse occurs in relationships. But the definition of domestic abuse also covers abuse between family members, such as adolescent to parent violence and abuse.