On children and youngsters

Child abuse and violence against children

Child abuse is more common than we think. Child abuse is when an adult hurts a child or a youngster. Or when an adult neglects a child.

Child abuse concerns all violence by adults directed at children.

Child abuse is physical, sexual or emotional violence. Or neglect of children.

Physical and emotional abuse

Physical abuse is when an adult shakes a child, hits him or her or uses other physical violence. Adults sometimes give severe punishments or threaten to do so.

In the case of psychological or emotional abuse, the adult often says bad things about the child. The child hears that he or she is not wanted. That they’re always difficult. That they never do anything right. Or that they’re a failure. This makes the child feel belittled, humiliated or laughed at.


In the case of neglect, the adult doesn’t take good care of the child. The child doesn’t get enough food. The adult doesn’t wash the child or doesn't give the child warm clothes.

Emotional neglect can also occur. In this case the child receives no attention or love. His or her feelings are ignored. The adult shows little interest in the child.

Picture of a toddler

Sexual abuse of a child or adolescent

When an adult touches or wants to touch a minor sexually. This may involve kissing, stroking or rape. Sexual abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. An adult can force a minor to watch porn. Or to send nude pictures or to undress.

Domestic violence and children

Domestic violence often involves children. Every child, no matter how small, feels the tension between its parents. This makes children feel unsafe or unhappy. It’s not OK for children to see or hear violent fights between their parents. This is a form of emotional abuse on children.

Talk about it with 1712.

Are you worried about a child? Do you sometimes lose control and hurt a child? Are you a minor and is someone hurting you?

Call or chat with 1712. Discuss the situation anonymously with a 1712 counsellor.

Are you a doctor or other professional? In that case, you can contact a Vertrouwenscentrum Kindermishandeling. More information on kindermishandeling.be

Deniz (31) is concerned when he drops Berat (2) off at his ex

Every week I drop my child off at his mother's place. She’s my ex-partner. She has mental health problems. She takes antidepressants and sleeping pills. She’s not able to take care of Berat. I know she’s impatient with him sometimes. You don't shake a two-year-old child, do you?


Neighbours' toddler (5) doesn’t go to school

There’s a playground next to my apartment building. One of the neighbour's boys, a toddler, is often there. Even during school days. He wears old clothes and looks filthy. He often looks sad. When I speak to him, he doesn't say anything. I’m worried.


Sandra (48) can't cope anymore

I’m exhausted. I can't cope anymore with my full-time job and the care for the children. Sometimes I get angry at my children for no reason. Yelling or slamming doors happens more and more. If this carries on for much longer I don’t know what I’ll do.


Olivia (12) gets beaten up when she doesn’t behave

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My mother’s on her own. She’s very stressed. At the slightest thing she shouts at me. When I shout back, she hits me. And also when I come home late or get bad marks.


Albert (79) is worried about Milan

Picture of an elderly man

My grandson Milan (11) tells me that his parents often quarrel. He recently told me they sometimes push and hit each other. When this happens he sits in his room and listens to music. Once Milan had to intervene to defend his mother. I don’t dare speak to Milan's father about this situation.