Child abuse and neglect is a social and public health problem, as well as a children’s rights issue in Australia.
Abuse and neglect can lead to a wide range of adverse consequences for children and young people. This paper provides an overview of the possible effects of child abuse and neglect and explores whether different types of maltreatment are associated with specific adverse consequences in childhood and adolescence.
Types of abuse and neglect
Child abuse and neglect refers to any behaviour by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that is outside the norms of conduct and entails a substantial risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or young person. Such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional and can include acts of omission (i.e., neglect) and commission (i.e., abuse). The five main subtypes of child abuse and neglect are:
- physical abuse;
- emotional maltreatment;
- sexual abuse; and
- witnessing family violence.