Children & young people

What is abuse and neglect?

Child abuse is when anyone under 18 is being harmed or isn't being looked after properly. Sometimes a young person can be abused by a stranger or by another young person, but usually they know the person who is hurting them or making them do things that they should not. They can be abused anywhere; at home, at school, a local sport centre or after school club. Sometimes someone else knows what is happening, but they don't stop it. This is wrong too. Remember, it is never your choice and never your fault for being abused. Child abuse is never right.

The four main types of abuse

What to do if you are worried about your safety

If you 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. No matter what someone has told you, if someone is hurting you, it is not your fault. No one has the right to do things to you that you don't like. If you speak out about it, there are people who will listen to you and help you. You won't be judged people just want to help.


To your teacher, your parents or carers, your local doctor or nurse;


Childline on 0800 1111. All calls are free and confidential


Call the East Riding Children's Safeguarding Hub on 01482 395500 or the Out of Hours Team (01482) 393939


If you are in immediate danger, you should call the police on 999

There are four main types of abuse:

Physical, sexual, emotional and neglect.

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is when someone hurts a child or young person on purpose. There are many forms of physical abuse.

The most common forms include:

  • hitting;
  • punching;
  • shaking;
  • throwing;
  • poisoning;
  • burning;
  • scalding;
  • drowning;
  • suffocating;
  • making a child ill.
What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is when someone under the age of 16 is told, asked or forced to take part in sexual activities. It does not matter if they know what is happening, or not. There are different ways in which a young person can be sexually abused.

Some examples are:

  • having someone touch their private parts;
  • making them touch someone else's private parts;
  • involving them in the making of films, videos or DVDs or taking photos and videos on mobile phones that involve sexual activity;
  • making them watch sexual behaviour;
  • making them do sexual things either to themselves or with other people.
What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse happens in many different ways. It can affect how a young person or child sees themselves; how they feel they fit in with their friends, schoolmates and where they live.

Examples of emotional abuse are:

  • being constantly told they are wrong or not good enough;
  • being unfairly blamed for everything all the time;
  • told that they are stupid;
  • made to feel unhappy;
  • being called nasty names;
  • being told they should never have been born;
  • being told to do tasks they are not old enough or can not really do;
  • seeing or hearing someone from home being hurt by another member of the family (domestic violence);
  • being bullied;
  • being made to feel frightened or in danger;
  • being over protected, like not being allowed to ever play or go out.
What is neglect?

Neglect is when a child or young person is not being looked after properly and his/her very basic needs are not met. This could result in their health or growth being damaged.

These very basic needs include:

  • food;
  • shelter (a safe place to stay/roof over your head);
  • safety in the home;
  • not being left alone in dangerous situations;
  • proper clothing;
  • good cleanliness (being allowed to wash/bath often enough);
  • being kept warm;
  • more help for vulnerable children;
  • medical treatment if necessary;
  • protection from physical and emotional harm or danger.

If you, or someone you know is being abused then you can tell someone who can help.

Useful links and downloads

Mental Health Advice and counselling service

The East Riding counselling unit provides information on issues affecting young people. It is a free confidential counselling service for young people, aged 13 - 25 years. You can enquire about this service online on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council website.