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Safeguarding policy, procedures, protocols and practice policy

Annex G: Types of abuse of children and adults with care and support needs

Last updated April 2023

Children and Young People

This encompasses the protection and welfare of children under the age of 18 (including unborn babies). It also incorporates the additional aims of preventing the impairment of children’s health and development; ensuring they grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.

Types of abuse:

There are four main types of abuse of children.

  1. Physical abuse - physical harm or injury
  2. Sexual abuse - forcing or enticing participation in sexual activities (regardless of whether or not the child or young person is aware of what is happening)
  3. Neglect - persistent failure to meet basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in serious impairment of health or development
  4. Emotional abuse - persistent emotional maltreatment to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on emotional development

Adults with care and support needs

The adult safeguarding duties under the Care Act 2014 apply to an adult, aged 18 or over, who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

Care and support is the mixture of practical, financial and emotional support for adults who need extra help to manage their lives and be independent – including older people, people with a disability or long-term illness, people with mental health problems, and carers. Care and support includes assessment of people’s needs, provision of services and the allocation of funds to enable a person to purchase their own care and support. It could include care home, home care, personal assistants, day services, or the provision of aids and adaptations.

Types of abuse:

There are seven main types of abuse of adults.

  1. Physical abuse - includes assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, being locked in a room, inappropriate sanctions or force-feeding, inappropriate methods of restraint, and unlawfully depriving a person of their liberty. Sexual abuse - involvement, either direct or indirect, in sexual activity without consent. It could also be the inability to consent, pressured or induced to consent or take part
  2. Psychological abuse - includes ‘emotional abuse’ and takes the form of threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, rejection, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, indifference, harassment, verbal abuse (including shouting or swearing), cyber bullying, isolation or withdrawal from services or support networks.
  3. Financial or material abuse - This includes theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
  4. Neglect and acts of omission - These include ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, and the withholding of the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating. Neglect also includes a failure to intervene in situations that are dangerous to the person concerned or to others, particularly when the person lacks the mental capacity to assess risk for themselves.
  5. Discriminatory abuse - This includes discrimination on the grounds of race, faith or religion, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation and political views, along with racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist comments or jokes, or comments and jokes based on a person’s disability or any other form of harassment, slur or similar treatment.
  6. Organisational abuse - Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, or where care is provided within their own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is illegal activity by people who have some form of power and control over children and use it to sexually abuse them. It involves forcing or enticing a child (under the age of 18) to take part in sexual activities whether or not the child is aware of what is happening, including exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where children (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities. CSE can be a form of organised or complex abuse, involving a number of abusers and/or a number of children.

CSE can occur through use of technology without the child's immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources.

Domestic abuse and violence

Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

Honour based abuse, including Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage

Honour based abuse is violence and abuse in the name of honour, covering a variety of behaviours (including crimes), mainly but not exclusively against females, where the person is being punished by their family and/or community for a perceived transgression against the ‘honour’ of the family or community, or is required to undergo certain activities or procedures in ‘honour’ of the family.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a collective term for illegal procedures which include the removal of part/all external female genitalia for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. The practice is not required by any religion. It is painful, medically unnecessary and has serious health consequences at the time it is carried out and in later life. The procedure is typically performed on girls of any age, but is also performed on new born girls and on young women before marriage/pregnancy. A number of girls die as a direct result of the procedure, from blood loss or infection. FGM may be practised illegally by doctors or traditional health workers in the UK, or girls may be taken abroad for the operation.

A forced marriage “is a marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties, where duress is a factor” (’A Choice by Right’ HM Government 2000).


Prevent is a government strategy led by the Home Office and focuses on working with individuals and communities who may be vulnerable to the threat of violent extremism and terrorism. Supporting vulnerable individuals and reducing the threat from violent extremism in local communities is priority for statutory partners and their partners.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery or human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people who, with the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, abuse of power or deception are exploited for the purposes of prostitution, forced labour, slavery or other similar practices. Victims are trafficked all over the world, including in and around the UK.

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