If you are being hurt or made to feel uncomfortable by an older child or adult, you can get help. Often children and teens are abused by the people who are closest to them like family, friends, sitters, neighbors and sometimes even teachers and coaches. These are the very people that children should feel the safest with.
You should know:
- No one has the right to injure you not even your parents.
- You don't deserve to be abused.
- If you are being abused, you are a victim.
- It's not your fault that you are being treated this way.
- It is wrong that you are suffering this pain, fear or sadness.
- You are not alone. Other kids suffer abuse, too.
- Sometimes abusers scare or threaten kids so they won't tell.
- There are people who care about you and want to help you.
If you are being abused, please tell a safe person. That's someone you can trust like a teacher, counselor, school nurse, neighbor or parent. You can also talk to a Childhelp USA hotline counselor. CALL 1(800) 4-A-CHILD, that is 1(800) 422-4453 then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor. The Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline is open 24 hours a day. This is a free call.
What is child abuse?
Is someone touching you in ways that aren't okay? If so, you may be a victim of physical abuse or sexual abuse. Do you get enough food to eat, and warm clothes to wear when it is really cold outside? Does someone give you medicine or take you to the doctor when you are sick or hurt? If not, you may be a victim of neglect type of child abuse. There are four kinds of child abuse:
Spanking isn't against the law but child abuse is. You are being abused if you are:
- Hit with a belt, hand or paddle, or pinched hard enough to leave a mark that doesn't go away right away.
- Burned, for example with cigarettes, a lighter, an iron or the stovetop burner.
- Bitten hard enough to leave a mark or break the skin.
- Pushed into walls or knocked to the floor.
- Choked, kicked or punched.
Sexual abuse is when someone touches your private parts, the parts of your body that are covered by a bathing suit, in a way that hurts or makes you feel uncomfortable. A quick check by your doctor or parent is usually okay.
- If someone makes you touch their private parts, or asks you to do it, that is abuse.
- If someone is showing you nude pictures of adults or children touching each other in this way you are being abused.
- It is also abuse for someone to take a picture of you touching their private parts, your private parts, or the private parts of another person.
- It may also be abuse for someone to take a picture of you without your clothes on.
Trust your feelings. If it feels uncomfortable, tell someone!
You are neglected if you are:
- Hungry a lot of the time and not given enough food or water.
- Not given medicine or taken to the doctor when you are really sick or hurt.
- Not given warm enough clothes in winter, or cooler clothes in summer.
- Left home alone when you are too young to take care of yourself safely.
- Never given hugs, compliments or told that you matter.
- Locked in a room for hours or even days at a time.
You are being emotionally abused if someone who takes care of you:
- Calls you names that are really mean.
- Tells you that you are worthless, stupid or "a mistake."
- Makes fun of you until it hurts.
- Tells you that you are never good enough or you can't do anything right.
- Tells you they wish you had never been born.
How to protect yourself from abuse:
- Do not be alone with someone you don't feel safe with.
- Do not be alone with anyone who hurts you.
- Listen to the little voice inside when it says that what is being done to you isn't right.
- Find an adult you trust and tell them what is happening. If they don't believe you, keep telling until someone does believe you.
The adult you talk to about your abuse, perhaps a teacher or a neighbor, may want to tell the police or child protective services about the person who is hurting you. If they don't know the telephone number to call to make the report, they should call 1 (800) 4-A-CHILD, that is 1 (800) 422-4453 and press 1 to speak with a hotline crisis counselor, who will give them the number to call in your community.
If you are too nervous or scared to tell someone you know about the abuse, but want it reported to the people who look into child abuse, call 1 (800) 4-A-CHILD, 1 (800-422-4453, then press 1. A Childhelp USA hotline counselor can make a three-way call so that you, the hotline counselor, and the person taking the report in your area are all on the telephone at the same time. Before you call to make the report, the hotline counselor can tell you what may happen after a report of abuse is made.