Child Abuse is Wrong: What Can I Do?

Physical abuse

Rick sat alone in the hospital coffee shop. He needed some time alone to calm his nerves. He had just made the call to Child Protection Services.* He couldn't believe he had taken this step. But his son Jason was waiting for an X-ray upstairs in the children's section of the hospital to see if his arm was broken. And the doctor was clearly worried about how Jason had gotten his injuries. She had asked a lot of questions about the bruises on Jason's wrists and face. Jason wouldn't say much about what had happened at his mother's place, except that his stepfather had locked him in his room for a long time. The boy's new stepfather didn't seem to like the boy very much. Rick felt his stomach clench. He knew that there was a lot at stake here. Rick's ex-wife, Cathy, had mostly ignored her son Jason the first few years after the divorce. When she had finally started to take Jason for the weekends after she re-married, it had seemed like a new start for all of them. However, before long, Jason had stopped wanting to go over to his mother's. Rick had thought it was just part of adjusting to the new family situation. He had felt sure that Cathy would never let any harm come to their son. Now that Rick knew that Cathy's husband was abusing Jason, he knew he needed to protect his son. Also, there were other children living in that home. They must have witnessed the violence—they must be afraid that this could happen to them too. Everyone deserves a chance to get some help.

What does it look like?

Physical abuse is the intentional use of force against a child. It can cause physical pain, injury, or injury that may last a lifetime. This type of abuse includes:

  • pushing or shoving
  • hitting, slapping or kicking
  • strangling or choking
  • pinching or punching
  • biting
  • burning
  • throwing an object at a child, and
  • excessive or violent shaking.

All of these acts are crimes in Canada.

What can I do?

Every province and territory has a law that says that any person who believes a child is being abused must report it. You will not get in trouble for making the report if you have reason to believe a child is being abused, even if it turns out you were wrong.

For more information about the child protection laws in your province or territory, see Child Protection Services under "Who Can Help?" at the back of this booklet.

If you know a child who is being physically abused, call your local police. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

If you have harmed your child, or think you might harm your child, get help. Here are some things you can do:

  • Call your local child protection services.
  • Talk to a social worker, counselor or teacher.
  • Call your local help line.*
  • Call the police.
  • In an emergency, call 9-1-1.
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