Child abuse is any action towards a young person under 18 years of age that harms or puts at risk your physical, psychological or emotional health or development.
Child abuse can cover issues like physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect and sexual abuse:
Child abuse can be a one-off thing or continue over a long period of time. Child abuse can happen anywhere. The abuse could be done by any adult, like a parent, a caregiver, a teacher or a family friend.
Child abuse can also include domestic or family violence, for example violence between your parents or other family members. See our fact sheet on Domestic Violence for more information.
No one is allowed to use extreme force to hurt you, but it is not against the law for your parents to use physical punishment, such as a smack. The physical punishment has to be considered as ‘reasonable’. If your parents use more force than is necessary (including if they use an object to hit you), or if they hit your head or neck, or cause harm that lasts for more than a short period, then this could be against the law.
If you feel that you are being punished too harshly, too often or are constantly scared of being hurt, or you have an injury after being hit, it’s important that you talk to a trusted adult about this.
If you are in immediate danger of being hurt or abused, please call the police on 000 and if you can, go to a secure place like to a trusted family friend, your school, a police station, or a medical centre.
If you have been hurt it is important to go to a doctor or hospital, so they can make sure you are okay.
If you are being abused you can talk to an adult you trust, like your doctor or a teacher. It’s important to know that people like teachers, doctors and police are ‘mandatory reporters’ and are required by law to make a report to child protection authorities if they think you are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing child abuse. All reports are confidential, so the person who hurt you will not be told who reported it, they will only be told the nature of the report so that the authorities can investigate. For more information on what happens when the authorities investigate you can visit this website: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/families/Protecting-kids/reporting-child-at-risk/what-next
To talk about anything that’s troubling you at all call the Kids Helpline. This is a supportive service for people between 5 and 25 years of age. They are available 24 hours and you can call them on 1800 55 1800. You can also email them by going to: https://www.kidshelpline.com.au/get-help/email-counselling.
They also have an online chat service at: https://www.kidshelpline.com.au/get-help/webchat-counselling
Child Protection Helpline
This helpline provides child protection services and advice. You can report the abuse yourself by contacting the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (available 24 hours).
It’s important to know that child protection authorities may not respond to every report they receive, so it’s important to make a report every time something happens.
For more information, see: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/families/children
If you are having problems at home, you can get help here and we can give you free advice and information. Everything you tell us is confidential and we will not tell anyone, including your parents. Lawyers are not mandatory reporters, and are not legally required to make a report to authorities like doctors, teachers and police are.
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