- What is child abuse?
- Different forms of child abuse
- Who abuses children and why?
- Is it my fault?
- What can I do?
- What will happen if I tell?
Child abuse is when an adult, or even another child, hurts a child on purpose. It might be physically (on their body), verbally / emotionally (by saying or doing things that make a child feel sad, bad or uncared for), or sexually (by touching the child’s private parts or showing/taking pictures or movies of the child without clothes, or other people without clothes on). Neglect is when a child’s parents or caregivers do not take care of them the way they are supposed to. Child abuse and neglect can cause a lot of harm, and means that the relationships in that family do not feel safe or healthy. It is very important that you tell someone what is happening, and get help from a trusted adult if you or a friend are being abused or neglected. You can call Childline any time of the day or night – 0800055555
Child abuse is when an adult, or even another child, hurts a child on purpose
- physically (on their body)
- verbally / emotionally (by saying or doing things that make a child feel sad, bad or uncared for)
- sexually (by touching the child’s private parts or showing/taking pictures or movies of the child without clothes, or other people without clothes on)
There are different ways that someone can hurt you, and all of them are not okay.
- Emotional/ verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
1. Emotional/ verbal abuse
Emotional abuse is when unkind words and actions make your heart sore, for example when someone
- takes no notice of you
- tells you nobody wants you or loves you
- is unkind and doesn’t care about you
- does not listen to you
- pushes you away
- does not keep promises, or lies to you
- calls you horrible names
- blames you
- always interrupts when you speak
- shames you
- mocks or teases you
- frightens you
- lies to you
- asks you to do things that are not right
These words and actions can make you feel bad, sad, lonely, frightened, not good enough, left out, ugly or worthless. Sometimes you can get depressed because of emotional and verbal abuse, and you need to get help. Talk to an adult who cares and will help you, or call Childline 0800055555
Neglect is if your caregiver does not provide you with the basic things that you need, like
- food and drink, proper clothing, a clean and safe place to stay
- enough time to sleep
- when you are sick ensuring you receive medicine/ dental treatment
- an education (sending you to school)
- not showing you how to do things or guiding you in any way
Remember, neglect is when your caregiver CAN provide these things, but WILL NOT. Sometimes caregivers are not able to provide everything their children need, so they need help. Remember, your caregiver can also call Childline to ask about what help is available – 0800055555
Physical abuse is if anyone (caregiver / teacher or any person) hurts your body on purpose, for example
- hits you
- burns you
- kicks you
- strangles or chokes you
- suffocates you
- ties you up
- locks you up in a small space
Remember, when a teacher hits you at school it is called corporal punishment, and it is illegal in South Africa. You need to tell your caregiver so that they can report it.
4. Sexual abuse
Your body is yours. Your private parts are the parts that show whether you are a boy (male) or a girl (female) and they belong only to you. Underwear or swimming costumes are worn over these parts to cover them – because they are private.
If someone touches or plays with, or maybe hurts your private parts, this is called sexual abuse. It is not allowed and you have the right to to tell someone. You are special and you have the right to be protected.
Sexual abuse is when an adult or even another child:
- asks you to show them your private parts
- touches your private parts
- shows you their private parts
- asks you to touch their private parts
- wants you to kiss their private parts
- wants to kiss your private parts
- puts things into your private parts
- shows you rude pictures or videos
- spies on you when your private parts are not covered.
Remember, when you are still a young child, your parent or caregiver may need to help you to bath and to keep your private parts clean. If anything hurts on your private parts, your parent or caregiver might have to take you to the doctor. BUT, there should be NO SECRETS when anyone is helping you, and your parent or caregiver must always be with you when a doctor examines you.
Sexual abuse can make you feel sad, bad, angry, confused, alone and depressed. It should never be kept secret. Tell an adult who cares and will do something to make sure it stops and you are safe. You can also call Childline 0800055555
Exploitation is when anyone (caregiver/older person) uses you to make money, for example
- uses you to beg
- makes you do bad things – like stealing
- lets other people do bad things to you, like sexual abuse
- uses you to sell things for them
- makes you to do work that prevents you from going to school or finishing your homework, or work that is harmful to your health (for example, farm work, domestic work, construction work, or using you to hand out pamphlets at traffic lights)
Remember, when your parent or caregiver gives you chores to do at home, or gives you the opportunity to help them out at work (without interfering with your school work), this is to teach you to be responsible, and to help you learn important life skills. For example, washing the dishes, making your bed, feeding the pets, or helping with the cooking are ways that each family member contributes to a happy, healthy home.
Watching and helping your parent or caregiver out at work is a great opportunity to learn what it is like to work and earn a living, and can help you figure out what kind of work you want to do some day.
Remember, if your parent or caregiver cannot afford to provide for your needs, they should call Childline 0800055555 to find out how they can get help.
Who abuses children and why?
Children can be abused by adults or children, by people they know, or by strangers. We don’t always understand why someone would abuse a child, but there is no excuse for child abuse. Any kind of abuse, no matter who is doing it, must be reported. Speak to an adult who cares and will help you, or call Childline 0800055555 (click to call)
Is it my fault?
|Child abuse is NEVER your fault.|
Sometimes children misbehave, sometimes they make mistakes, and sometimes children are not sure if something is right or wrong. Because of this, children sometimes feel like the abuse is their fault, and they feel scared to tell someone about what is happening. But remember, no one has the right to hurt a child. If ANYONE is abusing you, you need to tell. Speak to an adult who cares and will help you, or call Childline 0800055555 (click to call)
What can I do?
If ANYONE is abusing you, you need to tell. Think about adults that you know and trust, make a list and include their phone numbers – this is your safety team.
Make sure you have their correct phone numbers, and keep them with you at all times.
Remember, you keep telling until someone believes you and does something about the abuse.
What will happen if I tell?
Many children are scared to tell in case they get into trouble, because they think they have done something wrong, or that the abuse is their fault.
- If the adult you speak to does get angry and shout at you, you need to tell another adult who will believe you and will help you.
Sometimes children are scared that the person who is abusing them will get into trouble, and because they love that person, they want to protect them.
- If the person who is abusing you is someone you love or care about, you still need to tell, so that someone can try to help them to change their behaviour.
Sometimes the abuser threatens the child, and says that something bad will happen if they tell.
- If the person who is abusing you has threatened you or made you scared to tell, you need to explain that to the person you report the abuse to, so that they can make sure you are safe.
Remember, child abuse is never your fault, there is no excuse for abusing a child. You need to tell so that the abuse can be stopped.