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What is child maltreatment?

The following definitions have been adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO). Please refer to the WHO website for complete definitions.

Child maltreatment constitutes all forms of child abuse including physical abuse, emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligent treatment and exploitation of children, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.

Physical Abuse of a child results in actual or potential physical harm from an interaction or lack of an interaction, which is reasonably within the control of a parent or person in a position of responsibility, power or trust. There may be one, or repeated incidents.

Emotional Abuse includes the failure to provide a supportive environment for the child, and actions towards the child that cause or have a high chance of causing harm to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. These actions may include restriction of movement, patterns of belittling, putting down and insulting, scapegoating, threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing or other non-physical forms of hostile or rejecting treatment.

Neglect is the failure to provide for the development of the child in all areas relating to the child's well-being: health, education, emotional development, nutrition, shelter and safe living conditions. This failure to provide causes, or has a high probability of causing harm to the child health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. This includes the failure to properly supervise and protect children from harm as much as is possible.

Sexual Abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully understand, is not able to give informed consent to, or is against the laws or social taboos of society.