Whilst most children grow and develop in loving, nurturing environments, it is a sad fact that a significant minority suffer harm either intentionally or inadvertently through the actions or omissions of their parents, carers or others.
Most child abuse occurs within a child’s own family by persons known to the child. However, children may be abused in institutional or community settings by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.
A child is considered to be abused if he or she is treated in a way that is unacceptable in a given culture at a given time. The threshold beyond which actions or omissions become abusive or neglectful is, to a certain extent, socially and culturally defined. For example, physical punishment of children has become progressively less acceptable in the UK in recent years.