Toggle Contrast
Exit site

What is Abuse?

Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership

Need support?

In an emergency call the Police on 999.

If you need to talk to the Police, but don’t want someone to know you’re on the phone to them, you can make a Silent 999 Call.

You can also call Childline on 0800 1111.


Abuse can take many different forms, and can be any of the following:

Bullying is behaviour that hurts someone else. It includes name calling, hitting, pushing, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone. It can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online. It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online. Unlike bullying offline, online bullying can follow the child wherever they go, via social networks, gaming and mobile phone.

Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. It can seriously harm children and young people and witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse.

Domestic abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological.

Emotional abuse is any type of abuse that involves the continual emotional mistreatment of a child. It’s sometimes called psychological abuse. Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare, humiliate, isolate or ignore a child.

Emotional abuse is often part of other kinds of abuse, but it can happen on its own.

FGM is when a female’s genitals are deliberately altered or removed for non-medical reasons. It’s also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘cutting’ but has many other names. FGM is a harmful practice that isn’t required by any religion and there are no health benefits of FGM.

FGM is a form of child abuse. It’s dangerous and a criminal offence in the UK.

The NSPCC have a dedicated FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550. Visit our FGM webpage for more information on support services in Birmingham.

Criminal exploitation is child abuse where children and young people are manipulated and coerced into committing crimes. Exploiting a child into committing crimes is abusive. Children who are targeted can also be groomed, physically abused, emotionally abused, sexually exploited or trafficked.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. When a child or young person is exploited they’re given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection, in exchange for performing sexual activities. Children and young people are often tricked into believing they’re in a loving and consensual relationship. This is called grooming. They may trust their abuser and not understand that they’re being abused.

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs and the most common form of child abuse. A child might be left hungry or dirty, or without proper clothing, shelter, supervision or health care. This can put children and young people in danger. And it can also have long term effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.

There are 4 main different types of neglect, including: physical, educational, emotional and medical.

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet. It can happen across any device that’s connected to the web, like computers, tablets and mobile phones and it can happen anywhere online.

Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know or from strangers. It might be part of other abuse which is taking place offline, like bullying or grooming. Or the abuse might only happen online.

Physical abuse is any way of intentionally causing physical harm to a child or young person. It also includes making up the symptoms of an illness or causing a child to become unwell.

There are 2 types of sexual abuse – contact and non-contact abuse. And sexual abuse can happen in person or online.

Contact abuse is where an abuser makes physical contact with a child. Contact abuse can include touching, kissing and oral sex – sexual abuse isn’t just penetrative.

Non-contact abuse is where a child is abused without being touched by the abuser. This can be in person or online e.g. forcing a child to take part in sexual activities or conversations online or through a smartphone.

If you’d like more information on different types of abuse, visit the NSPCC website.