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Child abuse

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child. It is sometimes called psychological abuse and can seriously damage a child’s mental health and wellbeing.

Emotional abuse can take different forms. For example:

  • When a child is unfairly blamed for everything, told they are stupid, worthless or ugly and made to feel very sad and unhappy.
  • Not letting a child express their views, deliberating silencing them or mocking what they say or how they communicate.
  • When inappropriate expectations are imposed on them, having their capacity to learn restricted, or being prevented from normal social interaction.

It may involve bullying or cyberbullying, making a child feel frightened or in danger or exploiting or corrupting them.

Emotional abuse can have long-lasting and devastating effects on a child’s emotional health and development. Children and young people who are emotionally abused may also be the victims of other types of abuse, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

Getting help

Young Minds

Offers help to children and young people needing any kind of mental or emotional support. Lots of useful advice about how to cope and where to go to get help. Also provide a parent support helpline.

0808 802 5544


Information for children and young people about how to recognise emotional abuse and where they can go for help. Children and young people aged under 19 can call the confidential 24 hour helpline or chat online with a counsellor.

0800 1111


Offers advice and information aimed at adults about what to do if you think a child is being emotionally abused. Also further guidance about the different types of emotional and mental abuse.

0808 800 5000

If you are concerned that a child is being abused, or to request support, you can:

Call 0345 155 1071

Complete the request for support online form

If it’s an emergency call 999