Personal Safety

Child Abuse: Emotional abuse

What is Emotional abuse?

Emotional Abuse occurs when a child’s parent or caregiver repeat- edly rejects the child or uses threats to frighten the child. This may involve name calling, put downs or continual coldness from the parent or caregiver, to the extent that it significantly damages the child’s physical, social, intellectual or emotional development.

How can abuse and neglect be recognised?
Behavioural or physical signs which assist in recognising child abuse are known as indicators. A single indicator can be as import- ant an indicator as the presence of several indicators. A child’s behaviour is likely to be affected if he/she is under stress. There can be many causes of stress, including child abuse, and it is important to find out specifically what is causing the stress.

There are few physical indicators, although emotional abuse may cause delays in emotional, men- tal, or even physical development.

Possible behavioural indicators include:

  • Displaying low self esteem
  • Tending to be withdrawn, passive, tearful
  • Displaying aggressive or demanding behaviour
  • Being highly anxious
  • Showing delayed speech
  • Acting like a much younger child, eg. soiling, wetting pants • Displaying difficulties in relating to adults and peers


For those who are concerned about a child in relation to child abuse or neglect to making a report to child protection services in Victoria.

Protective Concerns
You are concerned about a child because you have:

  • Received a disclosure from a child about abuse or neglect
  • Observed indicators of abuse or neglect
  • Been made aware of possible harm via your involvement in the community external to your professional role At all times remember to:
  • Record your observations
  • Follow appropriate protocols
  • Consult notes and records
  • Consult with appropriate colleagues if necessary
  • Consult with other support agencies if necessary

Child abuse is a serious problem. In Victoria, if you suspect a case of child abuse or are mandated to report abuse, then you can contact Child Protection for advice. For immediate help To report concerns that are life threatening call Victoria Police 000. To report concerns about the immedi- ate safety of a child within their family unit, call the Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78 (24 hours, 7 days a week, toll free within Victoria) For more information visit Department of Human Services –


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Who to Contact

Victoria Police
Ph: 000

After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service
Ph: 131 278 (5.00pm - 9.00am Monday - Friday, 24 hours on weekends and public holidays)

CASA Crisis Line
Ph: (03) 9344 2210
Ph: 1800 806 292 - Rural free call

Domestic Violence & Incest Resource Centre
Ph: (03) 9486 9866