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The categories of abuse below are produced from external guidelines[1]. A person may abuse or neglect a child/vulnerable adult by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. There are four main forms of abuse, although there are variations within these:

  • Physical Abuse

Deliberate physical harm to children and vulnerable adults or any other form of harm which causes illness in a child or vulnerable person.

  • Sexual Abuse

Forcing or manipulating a child or vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities.

  • Neglect

This involves the persistent failure to meet a child or vulnerable adult’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’ or vulnerable adult’s health or development.

  • Emotional Abuse

This involves the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child or vulnerable adult such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional wellbeing and/or development.


[1] The Department for Education and Skills guidance: “What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused” (2006)