What is child abuse?
Abuse can happen to a child at any age, from pre-birth up to the age of 18. It can happen in well-off families and in poor families; it can happen to children from any ethnic and cultural background; it can happen to children with or without disabilities; it can be deliberate or unintentional.
Children can experience abuse at home, at school, in leisure activities, in children's homes - in fact anywhere. The abuse is usually caused by someone the child knows and rarely by a stranger.
Abuse can happen because of the way adults or other children and young people behave towards a child; it can also result from adults failing to provide proper care for the children they look after.
There are obvious risks to the health and well-being of children who suffer abuse, and in extreme cases a child may die if concerns are not acted on. Abuse is likely to cause long-term damage to a child's present and future life. It may lead to permanent physical and/or mental health problems, difficulty in achieving success in such areas as education, social relationships, job prospects, and parenting ability.