What is child abuse?

Child abuse is the deliberate harm of a child by an adult or another child. It can be the result of a one-off action, series of actions or ongoing over a period of time.  
Child abuse has four specific categories:
  • emotional
  • physical
  • sexual
  • neglect
Children can experience more than one type of abuse and there are a variety of themes which are included within the four categories of abuse. These could include: child criminal exploitation, including gangs, criminal activity and county lines, child exploitation including online grooming, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, domestic abuse/violence and Voyeurism (upskirting) to name a few. It is known that COVID-19 has exacerbated many issues and an example is approximately 50% increase in calls to Childline with concerns about a child living within an abusive home.

Current UK statistics

The NSPCC report (How Safe are our Children, published 2020)
Research carried out by the NSPCC provides some useful statistics to help us understand about child abuse in the UK.
Some of the key findings include:
  • 1/4 of contacts to the helpline were about concerns for adolescents compared to 3/4 about younger children (under 11).
  • The most common reason for a child protection plan in England and Northern Ireland was Neglect, compared to Scotland and Wales which was for Emotional Abuse.
  • Over the past 5 years, there has been an average of 62 child deaths per year by assault or undetermined intent in the UK.
    Children under one were the most likely age to be killed by another person.
  • 1/3 of all police recorded sexual offences are against children, the majority being by someone they know.
  • 12-15 year olds are twice more likely to report something worrying online than 8-11 year olds.
To view the full NSPCC report, click here.