WHO (World Health Organization) defines child abuse as “intentional or unintentional behaviours by adults that affect the health, and, physical and psychosocial development of a child negatively”.


The Difference between Neglect and Abuse

Neglect is the failure of individuals or institutions who are liable to look after a child by not doing what they should do, abuse is them doing what they shouldn’t do.


Types of Abuse


Physical Abuse

It can be defined as non-accidental incidents causing damages to the health and physical integrity of a child. Physical abuse includes slapping, punching, shaking, kicking, biting, pinching, burning, poisoning the child.


Possible Consequences of Physical Abuse

  • Low self-esteem
  • Aggression or becoming introvert
  • Illegal and risky behaviours
  • Feelings of anger and revenge
  • Skipping the school, academic failure
  • Adopting self-destructive behaviours
  • Substance Abuse
  • Sneaking out of home
  • Fearing of establishing new relationships
  • Sleep disorders, nightmares
  • Depression


Emotional Abuse

It is defined as “denigrating the children’s characteristics, capacity and desires; threatening the child with holy powers, social destruction and abandoning; requesting things which exceeds child’s age and ability; bringing up the child against the general rules of culture”. It is the most frequent kind of abuse and it is the hardest to understand. It usually accompanies all types of abuse.


Types of Emotional Abuse

Rejecting the Child:Not showing child any affection, not accepting the child as an individual, telling the child that it’s a mistake that he/she’s born, ignoring the child’s success.

Isolating the Child, Leaving the Child Alone: Making child believe that he/she’s alone by depriving the child of social experiences, not allowing the child communicate with his/her peers.

Over-Pressuring: Comparing the child with others, defining the child as unskilful and punishing the child for his/her failure, constantly criticizing the child, expecting behaviours way out of the child’s age

Ignoring the Child: Ignoring the emotional needs of the child and not communicating with the child, not addressing the child with his/her name

Browbeating and Scaring the Child: Creating a state of fear by verbally attacking the child, making child believe that the world is an unsecure and frightening place.

Making the Child Turn into Crime: Encouraging the child’s anti-social behaviours, making the child turn into crime by showing them negative examples/models

Humiliating the Child: Saying degrading words, insulting, explicitly telling the child that he/she’s worthless


Possible Consequences of Emotional Abuse

  • Difficulty in learning
  • Low self-esteemc
  • High level of fear and anxiety
  • Retardation in physical, emotional and social development
  • Aggressive behaviours
  • Over obedience
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Becoming an introvert
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts


Sexual Abuse

According to definition by WHO, child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Child sexual abuse is evidenced by this activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person.


Types of Sexual Abuse

  • Stalking the child
  • Showing private areas to a child
  • Sexualized kissing and touching
  • Making the child watch sexually explicit scenes
  • Forcing child to show his/her private areas
  • Forcing child to witness sexually explicit activities
  • Forcing child to touch an adult’s genitalia
  • Telling sexually explicit words to a child
  • Forcing child to prostitution
  • Oral, Anal, Vaginal Sex


Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Being over-aroused and in depression
  • Burst of anger
  • Sleep disorder
  • Stomach-aches and gastrointestinal disorders without any physical reason
  • Retardation in behaviours, bedwetting, encopresis, thumb sucking
  • Self-injury
  • Refusing to be left alone with someone he/she’s known
  • Not being able to focus
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempt
  • Aggressive behaviours
  • Acting sexually explicit (masturbating in front of everyone, sexual intercourse imitation, rubbing himself/herself against other people, holding other people’s breasts and genitals, playing sexually explicit games, sexually explicit words and behaviours being reflected on their pictures and games

Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Alcohol/Substance Abuse
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Adaptation of risky behaviours
  • Impulse Control Disorders
  • Sexual Problems
  • Uncontrolled Sexuality
  • To use sex for benefit or to be loved



Integrated Approach to Neglected and Abused Child, Edited by Prof. Dr. E.Tolga DAĞLI, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Akif İNANICI, Ankara, 2011

Child-friendly School Negligence and Abuse Victim Children, Edited by Yalın A, Levent B, Cerrah N, Sundur Y, Erman H; UNICEF, 2003