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Abuse is when a child or young person is mistreated or significantly harmed. 

Abuse can take many forms:

Physical Abuse

When an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.

Emotional Abuse

This would happen, for instance, when a child is being unfairly blamed for everything all the time, or told they are stupid and made to feel unhappy.


Where a child is not being looked after properly, for example, not getting enough to eat or being left alone in dangerous situations.

Sexual Abuse

An example of sexual abuse would be where a child has been forced to take part in sexual activities or in the taking of rude photos.


E.g. calling names, damaging property, stealing, spreading rumours, cyber bullying, hurting, getting people into trouble (see the Bullying page).

Domestic Abuse

When one adult in a family or relationship threatens, bullies or hurts another member of the family e.g. physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually or financially

If you, a friend or someone you know is being hurt, treated in a way that makes you feel scared or unsafe, or you feel very alone or unhappy, please tell someone about it so they can try to help you. Talk to someone you can trust, like a teacher or a nurse at your school.  They will listen to you and support you, and talk through what can be done to help sort things out.

In a non-urgent situation you can also contact the police on 101. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger then contact the police on 999.

If you don’t trust anyone you know:

  • Call the NSPCC 0800 800 5000
  • or call Childline 0800 1111