Categories of child abuse
Abuse can happen on any occasion or in any place where children and young people are
Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that
leads to injury or harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or
community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. Children can be
abused by adults, either male or female, or by other children.
Safeguarding is defined as:
• Protecting children from maltreatment;
• Preventing impairment of children's health or development;
• Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision
of safe and effective care; and
• Taking action to enable all children to have the best life chances.
Child Protection is the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are
suffering or are likely to suffer significant harm.
There are 4 main types of abuse: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
Children and young people can also be harmed through poor practice and bullying within a
Neglect is when adults consistently or repeatedly fail to meet a child's basic physical and/
or psychological needs which could result in the serious impairment of the child's health or
development e.g. failure to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing; failing to protect a
child from physical harm or danger; or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical
care or treatment. It may also include refusal to give love, affection and attention.
Examples in sport could include a coach or supervisor repeatedly failing to ensure children
are safe, exposing them to undue cold, heat or extreme weather conditions without
ensuring adequate clothing or hydration; exposing them to unnecessary risk of injury e.g. by
ignoring safe practice guidelines, failing to ensure the use of safety equipment, or by
requiring young people to participate when injured or unwell.
Physical abuse is when someone physically hurts or injures children by hitting, shaking,
throwing, poisoning, burning, biting, scalding, suffocating, drowning or otherwise causing
harm. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or
deliberately causes, ill health to a child whom they are looking after.
Examples in sport may be when the nature and intensity of training or competition exceeds
the capacity of the child's immature and growing body; where coaches encourage the use
of drugs or harmful substances to enhance performance or delay puberty; if athletes are
required to participate when injured; or when sanctions used by coaches imposed involve