Children and young people need to be taken care of so they are healthy and feel safe. It is a parent or care giver’s job to protect them from harm and meet their basic needs including food, water, a home, clothes, affection etc.
In Victoria, the Children, Youth and Families Act (2005) says a child or young person is someone under 17 years of age.
Child abuse is when children or young people are harmed, not protected or not taken care of. Child abuse can happen in many ways, for example:
- Physical abuse - when an adult hits or harms a child causing bruising or pain
- Emotional abuse - using hurtful words to make a child feel threatened, put down or afraid
- Sexual abuse - tricking or forcing a child into some form of sex including touching and sexual jokes
- Neglect - not protecting a child, letting them be harmed, and not meeting their basic needs.
Sometimes child abuse involves several of these things at once. Child abuse can happen in all kinds of families, from all kinds of backgrounds.