Child Abuse Definitions

Child abuse means anything that puts a child’s safety, growth, or survival at risk. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act in Alberta and the Criminal Code in Canada explain what actions and situations are dangerous for children and require intervention. Different types of abuse are described below.

Emotional Abuse

  • Emotional abuse is when someone causes serious emotional harm to a child. They might say mean things, make the child feel embarrassed or rejected, or make them feel frightened. Emotional abuse can happen many times, not just once.

Physical or emotional Neglect

  • Neglect is when a child doesn’t get the care they need and it harms them or puts them in danger. Physical neglect is when a child isn’t given enough food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, or protection from harm. Emotional neglect is when a child doesn’t get enough love or feel like they belong.

Physical Abuse

  • Physical abuse is when someone hurts a child’s body on purpose and causes serious injuries. This can happen just once or many times. It’s against the law to use physical force on children, except in some cases where it’s done by a parent or someone acting like a parent, but even then it must be for a good reason.

Sexual Abuse

  • Sexual abuse means that someone has done something sexual to a child that they shouldn’t have. This could be touching them inappropriately, having sex with them or making them do something sexual. It’s wrong for anyone to do this to a child, even if they are supposed to be taking care of them. It could be a parent, a family member, a friend or a stranger. Sexual abuse is against the law.

Making a Report is the First Step

The information provided by the caller will be assessed to determine if further investigation is required. Only the RCMP or Child Family Services can make a referral to The Bison Child & Youth Advocacy Centre.

In Alberta – Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act any person who has “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that a child is being harmed, has an obligation to report it to the proper authorities.

In High Level To Report Abuse Call:

Children’s Services, Child Intervention Intake at 1-800-638-0715 
OR High Level RCMP at 780926-2226

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