1 in 3 children are victims of abuse in South Africa, during stressful times like lockdown these numbers could increase due to extra strain on the family. It is important that you help your local child protection unit identify children who are at risk.

There are various forms of child abuse, but in all forms the abuse has a negative effect on the emotional and physical well being of the child.

Emotional abuse

  1. Yelling, threatening or bullying
  2. Children receive messages like: “You are no good”, “You are worthless” or “You are a mistake”
  3. Constant belittling, shaming, humiliating or calling names
  4. Giving a child silent treatment as punishment
  5. Limiting physical contact (no hugs, kisses or signs of affection)
  6. Exposing a child to violence against others (domestic abuse, etc)


  1. Not caring for a child’s basic needs, like hygiene, clothing, shelter or food
  2. Not helping a child with recommended medical treatment
  3. Leaving a child at home without supervision or inadequate caregivers
  4. Failing to enroll a child in school, or allowing children to skip school often

Physical abuse

  1. When someone hurts or harms a child on purpose, this includes: hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, biting, scratching, breaking bones and drowning
  2. Children might have behavior issues or anxiety
  3. Children might suffer with depression, eating disorders or suicide attempts
  4. Child is afraid of parent, unsure of what might lead to another anger lash out

Sexual abuse

  1. Changes in behavior
  2. Avoiding the abuser, the child might seem afraid of the particular person
  3. Sexually inappropriate behavior
  4. Physical problems, soreness in genital or anal areas, or even pregnancy
  5. Difficulty concentrating and learning
  6. Giving clues about abuse but not revealing it outright

Learn more about reporting child abuse. 

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