Physical or emotional abuse and neglect

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What is abuse?

Abusers can be adults but not just parents or carers. It might be a teacher, a family friend or a youth leader.

 It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention. We call this neglect.

  • Physical abuse
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    If you are being physically hurt by someone (like being beaten, punched, kicked, slapped, hair pulled, scalded with hot water, hit with objects or punished in other ways that cause physical harm), and it wasn’t an accident you are being abused.

    It can also include making you swallow something that hurts or makes you feel ill, including giving you medicine when you're not ill or don't need it.

    Childline have 5 things for you to remember:

    • no matter what the reason, physical abuse is always wrong
    • being abused is not your fault
    • it might feel like telling someone could make it worse, but getting help can keep you safe
    • physical abuse can make you feel powerless but being hurt is never your fault and there are people that can help
    • if you’re in immediate danger, you can call the police on 999 and they will come to help you.


    Talking about abuse is difficult. But it helps. Telling someone what’s going on means you don’t have to deal with it on your own. Most importantly, telling someone can help stop the physical abuse. It also means you can start to live a life that’s happier and safer.

    Childline has a 24/7 helpline call free on 0800 1111 or log in for a chat with a counsellor or visit their website for further information and support.

    Your school teachers and support staff in your school have been trained as well to help with these issues and know where you can get help. 


    Get more information from:

  • Emotional abuse
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    If someone always puts you down, shouts at you, ignores you, or makes you feel bad about yourself, it's emotional abuse. 

    Emotional abuse includes when someone:

    • calls you names
    • keeps shouting at you, even if you haven't done anything wrong
    • puts you down 
    • ignores you or leaves you out of things
    • says or does things that make you feel bad about yourself
    • makes you feel like you don’t belong
    • makes you take responsibility for things you shouldn’t have to do until you’re older
    • tries to control you or put pressure on you to do things you’re not ready to do
    • treats you differently from your brothers or sisters
    • puts you in dangerous situations
    • is aggressive and violent to other people in your family and you keep seeing it
    • stops you from having friends


    Childline has 3 things for you to remember:

    1. you don't have to put up with it. No one has the right to make you feel bad
    2. it's not your fault when someone else is emotionally abusive
    3. record what's going on. This will help you to explain what's happening to someone who can help.




  • Neglect
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    Neglect is when a child or young person is not getting the things they need, for example 

    • somewhere safe and warm to live; somewhere to learn and develop; 
    • somewhere you will be cared for when you are not feeling well; 
    • somewhere you will get enough to eat; somewhere you will be properly looked after; and, not be ignored. 


    Neglect often happens when children are left to care for themselves or care for others such as brothers and sisters all the time.

    Childline says every young person needs the following:

    • clothes that are clean and warm and shoes that fit and keep you dry
    • enough to eat and drink
    • protection from dangerous situations
    • somewhere warm, dry and comfortable to sleep
    • help when you're ill or you've been hurt
    • love and care from your parents or carers
    • support with your education
    • access and help with medication if needed
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