The six main types of child abuse are:


Sexual abuse/sexual misconduct


Any sexual act or sexual threat imposed on a child or young person. This can include exposure to inappropriate sexual behaviour or material. For example, suggestive behaviour, inappropriate touching or voyeuristically watching an athlete shower or change clothes. In most states and territories of Australia, by law, children (under 16 years of age) do not have the ability to consent to any sexual activity with an adult. It is against the law for adults in a position of power or authority (e.g. Coach, Manager, Selector, MPIO, Committee member) to engage in any form of sexual activity with a child.


Physical abuse


Non-accidental injury and/or harm to a child or young person, caused by another person such as a parent, care-giver or even an older child. For example, physically punishing a young person for losing a game by hitting, kicking, throwing equipment, pushing or shoving.


Emotional abuse 


Behaviours that may psychologically harm a child or young person.

For example, threatening language, bullying, ridicule, personal abuse and comments designed to demean and humiliate. Persistent negative comments to a child or young person.




Failing to provide a child or young person with basic physical and emotional necessities, harming them or putting them at risk of harm.


For example, keeping the best young player on-field to win the game despite having an injury or making children play or train in excessive heat. Over-training young athletes and/or denying a child their basic rights (access to toilets, water and food).


Family violence


Sometimes known as domestic violence, means violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful (Family Law Act)


Organised sexual abuse


This can include a range of circumstances where multiple children are subject to abuse from multiple people. This can include organized child pornography or child prostitution. 




These definitions and indicators have been included as a guide only. They do not replace the need for consultation with professionals who work in the area of child abuse.


So what are the indicators of abuse?