Abuse is harm that can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect is also a form of abuse.

Physical Abuse

When something is done to harm a child’s or an adult’s body, it is physical abuse. Some examples of physical abuse include slapping, kicking, hitting and shaking or threatening to do any of these things.

Sexual Abuse

This is when an adult, teenager or older child touches a child sexually or uses a child in a sexual way. Some examples of sexual abuse include when someone touches a child’s private parts (areas covered by a bathing suit or underwear), makes a child touch or look at another person’s private parts, takes pictures or videos of a child doing these things or tries to get a child to do these things.

Emotional Abuse

Saying mean things to another person to hurt them is a way of bullying, scaring, or putting them down. So is threatening to hurt someone or to do something mean to them, like destroying their toys or other possessions or harming their pets.


Physical or emotional neglect happens when a parent or other family member responsible for a child doesn’t give that child the basic things they need to keep them safe and healthy, like food and clothing, or doesn’t take them to the doctor when they need medical care.

Help is available for young people

  • If you are in immediate danger or need help right away, call 9-1-1 or your local police emergency number.
  • You can call the Kids Help Phone free of charge at 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868. You don’t have to tell them your name. More information is available here on the Kids Help Phone website.
  • If you see or experience abuse, tell someone you trust. You can ask the person you trust for help with a safety plan. A sample of a safety plan you could use to plan ahead can be found here. (PDF Version, 68 KB, PDF Help)
  • The Canadian Red Cross has advice to help deal with abuse, bullying, and cyberbullying.

More information for young people and adults

  • The Child Welfare League of Canada has prepared a list of COVID-19 Resources for parents, youth and caregivers. It includes resources that have been developed by and for Indigenous people.
  • To help promote safety while online, The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has resources for 8 to 10 year olds, tweens and teens. Their Cypbertip.ca tip line can be used to report the online sexual exploitation of children.
  • Justice Canada has a booklet called Child Abuse is Wrong: What Should I do? This booklet is for the parents or guardians of children. It talks about child abuse in families and answers questions about the law on child abuse in Canada.
  • Children First Canada’s website provides information and resources for children and families impacted by COVID-19. The Teachers’ toolkit can help educators communicate with children and youth who are at risk of family violence.
  • Jack.org has developed a COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub to provide young people with mental health information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Justice Canada has a website that provides general information on family violence and the law.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has a Stop Family Violence website that is a one-stop source for information on family violence.
  • The Department of Justice Victim Services Directory helps service providers, victims, and individuals locate services for victims of crime across Canada.