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Child Abuse


Every child has the right to health and a life free from violence. Each year, at least 1,000 children in Malaysia are reported as victims of child abuse and neglect. Child abuse is a huge global problem with a serious impact on the child’s physical and mental health, well-being and development throughout their lives – and, as such a problem for society in general.

Myths And Realities Of Child Abuse

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse refers to the physical and emotional mistreatment, sexual abuse, neglect and negligent treatment of children, as well as to their commercial or other exploitation

  • Constitutes all forms of physical abuse and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm, to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power – WHO Violence Injury and Prevention Team,1999
  • Child abuse is generally divided into four different types of abuse which are :
    • Physical abuse
    • Sexual abuse
    • Emotional abuse
    • Neglect

Types of Child Abuse

  1. Physical Abuse
    • Physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death)
      • as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other objects), burning, or otherwise harming a child.
      • considered abuse regardless of whether the caretaker intended to hurt the child.
    • Intention to hurt may not be present
      • may have resulted from over-discipline or physical punishment
      • from irritation over a crying baby and inability to cope
    • Bullying,and shaken baby syndrome (link) are form of physical abuse
  2. Sexual Abuse
    • The activity is intended to satisfy or gratify the needs of the adult or another child who by age or development is in a position to assume responsibility and trust. Include:
      • Inducement or coercion of a child in any unlawful sexual activity.
      • Commercial exploitation through prostitution or production of pornographic materials
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  3. Emotional Abuse
    • often difficult to prove
    • almost always present when other forms of abuse are identified:
      • patterns of belittling (include school bullying)
      • habitual scapegoating
      • denigrating, humiliating
      • rejecting treatment
      • confinement of child in a dark closet
  4. Neglect
    • Neglect happens when kids live in a home where the adults do not offer their basic needs:
      • Physical -(e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
      • Medical -(e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
      • Educational & supervisional – (e.g., failure to educate a child or offer special service provision)
      • Emotional
        • inattention to a child’s emotional needs
        • failure to provide psychological care
        • permitting the child to consume alcohol or use drugs
      • Consider cultural values, standards of care and level of poverty before reporting as neglect

What is the scale of the problem in Malaysia?

  • Child abuse occur everywhere including Malaysia, however it is still under-reported like in other parts of the world. Reporting is just the tip of the iceberg as many cases of child abuse are unreported.
Last reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer : Dr. Irene Cheah
Reviewer : Dr. Zainab bt. Kusiar