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Child & Youth Abuse

Sometimes people we know do things that make us feel unsafe. This can feel scary and confusing, especially if they are someone we love or trust. If you have been abused as a child or youth by a parent, caregiver, relative or other adult, visit this section to find help.

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Child or youth abuse happens when an adult you trust does something to harm you, or fails to protect you from harm. The trusted adult could be a parent, caregiver or someone like an older family member, friend’s parent, coach or teacher. Child/youth abuse can take many forms, and can happen to someone of any gender.

Abuse of children and youth can include:

Physical abuse: when an adult physically hurts you on purpose. Examples are hitting, throwing things, or using physical force to punish or scare you.

Sexual abuse: when an adult uses you in a sexual way or involves you in a sexual activity. Some examples are:

  • Touching you or asking you to touch sexual body parts
  • Asking you to take your clothes off or taking their own clothes off in front of you
  • Showing you pictures of people who are naked or having sex
  • Taking sexually explicit pictures or videos of you
  • Talking about sex with you in a way they might talk to another adult

Emotional or psychological abuse: when an adult does or says things that make you feel badly about yourself (especially a parent or caregiver). This type of abuse can cause a lot of harm. It is usually something that happens more than once – it may even happen often. Some examples are when someone:

  • Yells at, insults, humiliates or threatens you
  • Rejects or repeatedly ignores you
  • Blames you when things go wrong that aren’t your fault
  • Is violent towards people or pets you care about

Abuse through neglect: when a parent, caregiver or another adult does not do what they need to do to make sure you are healthy, safe, and doing well.

Some examples are if they:

  • Lock you in a room or closet
  • Don’t take care of you when you’re sick
  • Won’t let you go to school when you’re supposed to
  • Don’t give you food or clothing

Sometimes adults will do things or make decisions you do not like, but these should never be things that cause you harm. If something feels wrong, trust your instincts.

If your parent, caregiver, or another adult in your life is being abusive, it is not okay. They may say you should not tell anyone– but keeping it a secret will not help you feel safer or feel better. It can be hard to talk about, but telling someone is a way to get help and stop the abuse. You may want to tell a friend, parent, teacher, friend’s parent, or another adult you trust to help you think things through.  Keep in mind that a trusted adult can be a great support – but if you are in any danger, they have a duty to report suspected abuse or neglect. If a trusted adult believes that you are in danger—that you were abused, that you are going to be abused or neglected—and if you don’t have an adult or guardian who is able to protect you, the law in B.C. is that an adult must report the situation.

You can learn more about reporting child abuse here. It is important to know that if you or someone else reports this type of abuse, you may need to answer detailed questions about the abuse you have experienced.


Supporting Others

If someone you know is being abused, it is important to support them. Listen to them and remind them that it isn’t their fault. Help them find resources that can help them. If the abuse is taking place in your home, it is important to consider your own safety as well.

If you know someone who is being abused, there are places you can turn for help. You can learn more about reporting child abuse here. It is important to know that if you report this type of abuse, they may need to answer detailed questions about the abuse they have experienced.

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.