What should I do if I think a child is being abused or neglected?

1. Think about the types of harm

The harm may have already happened or may be something that might happen.

Examples of physical harm include:

  • physical force that results in pain or injury to a child
  • when a child is punched, slapped, choked, burned, or pushed
  • throwing objects at a child

Examples of sexual harm include:

  • involving a child in sexual activity
  • exposing a child to pornography
  • getting a child to take part in sex work or producing pornography

Examples of emotional harm include:

  • when a child is yelled at, ignored, rejected, insulted, or isolated
  • exposing a child to partner abuse
  • threatening a child

Other examples of harm are:

  • Where a parent isn't able to deal with a child who is causing serious injury to another person, or serious damage to another person's property.
  • Where the child is at risk of harm because a parent:
    • has a history of harming children
    • isn't able to care for the child because of drug or alcohol abuse or mental health issues
    • has limited care giving skills

Harm can also include when a child's basic needs for things like food, shelter, sleep, or clothing are not being met. This is called neglect.

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