Child abuse is a very sensitive subject. The news is full of frightening stories that can leave us feeling powerless to prevent this happening to children. However CAP has a positive, empowering approach, together with a passionate belief that we can keep children safe strong and free from all abuse.

What is child abuse?

In the 'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015' document from the Department of Education, child abuse is defined as follows:

“Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional setting or community setting; by those known to them, or more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults or another child or children.”

There are four categories of abuse:     Physical Abuse     Sexual Abuse     Neglect     Emotional Abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.

Statistics and research

Child abuse can happen anywhere. Sometimes that is hard to face and it is easier to believe some of the myths that are out in society rather than confront the reality. Here are some examples of misconceptions that are often held around child abuse.

1. Child abuse is a rare occurrence.

At least one child in ten is, at some point in childhood, judged to be at risk of significant harm and likely to be suffering from physical, emotional, sexual, or other forms of abuse and neglect.

2. Abuse and neglect almost always occurs in poor, minority, and/or inner-city families.

Child abuse is relentlessly democratic. It occurs within every neighbourhood and school community across the country.

3. Sexual assault only happens to girls.

Boys tend not to report such events. Current research estimates that one of four girls and one of four to seven boys will experience some form of sexual assault before their eighteenth birthday.

4. Most assaults on children are perpetrated by a stranger.

90% of child sexual assaults are perpetrated by an adult who is known and trusted by the child.

5. Child abusers are easy to identify.

Child abusers cannot be easily distinguished from other people. They are not usually people with mental illness or disabilities. In fact, many offenders are upstanding community citizens.

6. Most abused children do something to cause the abuse.

The child is always the victim. The responsibility for the abuse lies solely with the adult. Over half of the adult survivors say they told no-one because they were too frightened, guilty, or felt they wouldn't be believed.

7. Child abuse is the problem of organisations such as the police, government and social services.

Safeguarding children and young people is the responsibility of every individual. It is important that we have courage and unity to tackle this problem together.

Prevention – CAPs Approach

As parents/ carers, historically the message we receive is about protecting our children from strangers, yet statistics show the risk of our children being hurt by strangers is very small. Our children are at greater risk at home, from people in their family and wider circle.

There remains a need for more information for parents and school staff on how to discuss these issues with children. Parents are rightly concerned with protecting their children’s innocence and not making them fearful. The CAP project is committed to helping communities to give children positive messages and provide the information and tools they need to keep themselves safe. We need to work together to protect children.

Please see our Parents page for more information on how you can contribute to the safety of children and young people.

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