Quick Exit

Child abuse and neglect

Child abuse is when an adult causes emotional, sexual or physical harm to a child, or when a child’s basic needs are neglected.

Accidents which cause harm to a child aren’t necessarily child abuse, but serious neglect of a child's safety could be abuse.

Child abuse may sometimes be a one-off incident. But often, abuse takes place repeatedly over a period of time and usually involves more than one kind of abuse.

There are many types of child abuse and all of them can cause devastating life-long impacts. The most serious cases cause death.

The signs of child abuse vary depending on the age of the child or adolescent and not all children who display these symptoms have been abused.

> The signs of child abuse

> The impacts of child abuse

> Seek advice and help

Issues impacting childhood

Family Violence
Family violence may include physical violence, verbal or emotional abuse, controlling or threatening behaviour, sexual or financial abuse.
Child neglect
Neglect is when a parent or caregiver fails to provide for a child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, education or health care.
Child sexual abuse
Sexual abuse is when a child is forced or coerced to be a part of sexual acts, or to witness them.
Bullying and Cyberbullying
Bullying is repeated behaviour to hurt someone physically or emotionally. More and more bullying is happening online, which is called cyberbullying.
Child physical abuse
Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury caused to a child. It can harm the child both physically and mentally, even if no mark appears on their body.
Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is when an adult deliberately and repeatedly causes a child emotional distress.
Online child abuse
Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, mobile phones, online forums or networks. Online abuse includes child sexual abuse, cyberbullying, sexual exploitation and grooming.
Grooming and Child Sexual Exploitation
An adult and older adolescent may groom a child with the intention to sexually abuse or exploit them in the future.
Problem sexual behaviour
Problem sexual behaviour describes a range of child’s actions which are either harmful or inappropriate for their age and development.

What you should do about it

If you’re a child and you want to talk to someone

Call Kids Helpline at any time:

Call 1800 55 1800

If you think a child is in immediate danger

Contact Police as soon as possible:

Call Triple Zero (000)

Seek advice and get help


It is important that you seek out help if you are worried about yourself, a friend or another family member.