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Section summarised

What is ABUSE according to the Children’s Act 38/2005?



Abuse is any form of ill-treatment or harm deliberately inflicted on a child

Abuse can be physical (example: smacking a child, beating a child), emotional + psychological (example: allowing a child to witness physical or emotional abuse of another, telling a child he/she is stupid, withholding love and guidance from a child, calling the child demeaning names).

How does the Children’s Act (38/2005) categorise abuse?

Practical tips

  • Before you investigate an allegation of child abuse, quickly refresh your memory on the guidelines offered in Regulation 35 – the Broad Risk Assessment Framework – which will guide your decision making
  • By carefully reading these guidelines you might find it easier to identify different types of indicators of different types of abuse.
  • If abuse was unintentional – but the parent or caregiver failed to prevent the abuse - then this might be considered abuse – depending on the facts of the case.
  • Every allegation of abuse must be investigated and managed with a sense of urgency.
  • In cases where sexual and physical abuse is alleged (to you as a child protection social worker), it is important to report the case to (1) the police and ensure that (2) a J88 is done by an appropriate medical practitioner. It is helpful that you and a supportive adult familiar to the child (with whom the child is comfortable) accompany the child throughout this process.
  • Make sure you have evidence (photos, affidavits, disclosures, witness statements in the form of affidavits, medical reports – J88 etc.) to support you actions and recommendations.

Carefully summarised by: