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What is child abuse?

Child abuse is harm, injury or neglect towards a child caused by another person. Physical and mental abuse includes harm or injury by slapping, punching, kicking, demeaning, yelling or threatening. Sexual abuse includes any sexual activity from touching to rape. Financial abuse includes not providing the funds necessary for the child to live a 'normal' life, i.e. no clothes, no school fees, no bus money, etc. Neglect includes withholding the necessities of life; food, water, sanitary and safe housing, etc.

The important caveat to child abuse is the inability of the child to consent or confront. They do not have legal standing or the life experience to know what they may be saying 'yes' to. They also do not have the personal or social power to confront or stand up to their abuser.

Child abuse refers to the age of the one being abused, not the age of the abuser. It can be another child, an older child, an adult, a stranger or more than likely someone they know and trust such as a parent or extended family member.  

They are also unable to support or care for themselves. As such, there is a requirement for a guardian for each child and for them to be nurtured and protected. Health professionals who witness or suspect child abuse are required to report this to the authorities. Precise requirements to report will depend on the jurisdiction.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.