Child Maltreatment: Definition and Meaning

Child maltreatment or child abuse is one of the most common offences prevalence in all parts of the world. Negative impacts are produced both immediately and over time by child abuse and neglect. Maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse, and verbal abuse are all examples of physical and emotional child abuse. They are harmful to the mental, physical, and psychological well-being of children.

Meaning of Child Maltreatment

Child maltreatment or abuse is any action, omission, or carelessness by a person, whether an adult or a kid, that seriously jeopardises the life or development of a child and has a long-lasting negative influence on their physical and mental health and wellbeing. A child who experiences maltreatment as a young child will always carry that memory with them. A youngster is abused by both insiders and outsiders.

They frequently experience abuse from their own parents, teachers, carers, or siblings. Child abuse can take many different forms. Physical abuse of a child is not the only form of child abuse. Along with physical, sexual, emotional, and mental abuse, children can also experience neglect and exploitation. Abuse is any of these types that endangers a child's health, survival, development, or dignity.

Meaning of Child

A child is somebody who has not reached the age of 18. Although many laws define children differently, the United Nations Convention defines a child as a person who has not reached the age of 18 unless the child is covered by legislation that allows them to become adults sooner.

The definition of child abuse varies from civilization to civilization and from professional to professional. In the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust, or power, child abuse is defined by the WHO as all forms of physical or emotional maltreatment, sexual abuse, neglect, carelessness, and commercial or other forms of exploitation.

Types of Child Abuse

Following are the major types of child abuse −

Physical Abuse

Abuse that takes the form of physical manifestation is fairly widespread. If we look at the schools in India, we can easily locate every second school where a youngster is being tormented by their friends or receiving harsh punishment. Physical abuse includes striking, biting, bullying, and placing a youngster in an unseemly situation. It can be done to both pupils and teachers who use harsh punishment. All of this has a lasting effect on the child's brain that is challenging to forget.

Emotional Abuse

Although it is highly widespread, it is still unrecognisable. This type of abuse is more mental than physical. A kid is being mentally tormented. But just the abuse of a child's mind is not tolerated in India. Depression is said to have no definition. Even a child can experience depression. It is frequently noticed that emotional abuse prevents a child from developing emotionally, yet this is very hard to establish. A lack of evidence makes emotional harassment impossible to substantiate. This typically occurs when a child lacks a nurturing environment, is the victim of blackmail, or has his emotional needs unmet.

Sexual Abuse

Another type of misuse that is rapidly expanding Including a child in sexual activities they do not consent to is known as "child sexual abuse." In some fashion, this shape occurs every minute. Physical or mental abuse of a sexual nature is possible. Physical abuse includes rape, bruising or swelling in the genital regions, inappropriate touching or kissing of the kid, and other behaviours. in emotional, vulgar remarks, online solicitation, and other ways.

Example of Child Abuse

Major examples are −

Child Labour

The use of children in any job that robs them of their youth, prevents them from attending regular school, or is intellectually, physically, socially, or morally detrimental is known as "child labour." Such work is viewed as child exploitation and abuse by the International Labour Organisation. Child labour refers to jobs that hinder children's development owing to their nature or a lack of suitable supervision; it excludes jobs that are age-appropriate and well-supervised for minors to perform.

Around 215 million children work around the world, many of them full-time, according to the ILO. Many of these kids don't attend school, don't get the attention or nutrition they need, and don't get much time to play. The worst types of child labour, like child prostitution, drug trafficking, armed combat, and other dangerous situations, expose more than half of them. The Minimum Age Convention of 1973 and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention are just two of the worldwide laws that protect children from child labour.

Forced Adoption

Forced adoption tactics have included removing minority-ethnic children from their families and placing them in the homes of members of the majority group. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were among the stolen generations in that country. Children from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in Canada attended the system of Canadian Indian residential schools, where they frequently experienced terrible maltreatment.

A minimum of 500,000 children were also forcibly taken from their families as part of the Uyghur genocide in 2017 alone, and they were housed in kindergarten camps with 10,000-volt electric fencing and surveillance systems akin to those found in prisons.


From the reports and incidents, it is obvious that there is a daily rise in child abuse and that the abuse has negative effects on children. A child's brain is permanently affected, and he will never be able to forget what occurred to him. Both his growth and his emotions are severely harmed by the effect. Its effects linger if something similar occurs at such a young age. In my view, the government should develop additional regulations and have a number of gatherings or programmes to educate the public about the true nature of abuse in order to stop it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is child violence illegal?

Ans. Child abuse is a crime that is sanctioned in India. According to Indian law, child abuse is any behaviour that causes a kid physical or mental injury. The deliberate withholding of a child's required care and treatment that could endanger their bodily or mental health is also illegal under Indian law.

Q2. What is the punishment for abuse?

Ans. Anyone who assaults or uses unlawful force against another person without first coming to that person's serious or immediate request is subject to a period of imprisonment of either kind of up to three months, a fine of up to 500 rupees, or both.

Q3. What is the most harmful abuse?

Ans. According to studies, emotional abuse may be the most harmful type of maltreatment, with negative developmental effects that are on par with or even worse than those of other types of abuse (Hart et al. 1996).

Q4. Why can abuse happen?

Ans. Abusers frequently feel that their own needs and wants should come first in a relationship or that they should enjoy using the power that such behaviour grants them. As a result, they believe they have the right to restrict and control their partners' life.

Updated on: 08-May-2023


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