Child Abuse

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is any action by another person that causes significant harm to a child. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect.

Increasingly child abuse is happening online.

Effects on a Child

An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off incident.

The sustained abuse or neglect of children can have major long-term effects on all aspects of a child’s health, development and well-being. In severe cases it can even cause death.

The impact of abuse can extend into adulthood - the experience of long-term abuse may lead to difficulties in forming or sustaining close relationships.

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  • Physical abuse - is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts. It can involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm.
  • Sexual Abuse – is when a child is forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware it is happening. It doesn’t have to be physical contact, and it can happen online.
  • Emotional Abuse – sometimes called psychological abuse, is the on-going emotional maltreatment of a child. It can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child, isolating or ignoring them, or causing them to believe they are worthless or inadequate.
  • Neglect – is the on-going failure to meet a child’s basic needs and is the most common form of child abuse. A child may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care. A child may be put in danger or not protected, or they may be emotionally neglected.

Follow this link for more information about child neglect.

Members of the public should think, spot the signs and speak out against the abuse and exploitation of any children in our community.

The signs of child abuse aren’t always obvious and a child may be scared to tell anyone what’s happening to them, think they won’t be believed or they may not even realise it is abuse.

Signs of child abuse:

  • Talks of being left home alone or with strangers
  • Poor bond or relationship with a parent
  • Excessive violence with other children
  • Lacks social skills and has few, if any friends.

Follow this link to the NSPCC’s detailed signs of child abuse which are relevant to each age-group.

The Dorset Police Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) consists of specially trained, nationally accredited detectives who are responsible for the investigation of allegations or suspicions of child abuse. The team works closely with other agencies, including local authorities.

Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. Nothing makes it okay for someone to hurt you and abuse is never your fault.

For support and advice visit Childline or call them on 0800 11 11. 

If you think a child is being abused or neglected please report your concerns via the online form here >

Alternatively if you wish to speak with someone call 101. In an emergency, if you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 999.

Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

NSPCC: 0808 800 5000, help@nspcc.org.uk

Local Authority Children’s Social Care:

Bournemouth: 01202 458101.

Poole: 01202 735046

Dorset: 01202 228 866, www.dorsetforyou.com/393713

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