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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Child abuse & neglect

Whakangongo me whakamaniorotanga a te tamaiti


If you or a tamaiti (child) are in immediate danger, phone the police on 111 at any time, day or night.

If you believe a tamaiti is being abused or neglected, phone Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children on 0508‑326‑459. This phone number is staffed 24 hours, every day by social workers.

If you or your tamariki (children) are affected by family violence, call the Family Violence Information Line on 0800‑456‑450. It is available 24 hours a day, every day.

Every tamaiti (child) deserves to feel safe and have their needs met.

Abuse and neglect need to be treated seriously because their effects can be very harmful and may last a lifetime.

Most tamaiti abuse happens within the whānau (family) home but it can happen anywhere. It can happen at school, in the community or online.

The signs of tamaiti abuse are not always obvious, and abuse frequently goes undetected and unreported.

Types of abuse

Tamaiti abuse can be sexual, physical or emotional. It can also be neglect.

Sexual abuse can be sexual contact. But it can also be exposing a child to sexual situations or pornography, whether or not touching is involved.

Physical abuse involves deliberate physical harm or injury to the child.

Emotional abuse can include:

Neglect may include:

A tamaiti can experience more than one form of abuse at a time.

Preventing child abuse & neglect

It is crucial that everyone keeps an eye out for the tamariki in our community.

We all have a responsibility to speak up if we are worried about a tamaiti or concerned they are not safe or not being properly cared for.

If a tamaiti or rangatahi (young person) tells you they are being abused, tell them you believe them and you will make sure they get help. It is important that the tamaiti knows it is not their fault.

If you are worried that a tamaiti is being abused or neglected, call Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children on 0508-326-459.

You do not have to tell them who you are if you do not want to.

Concern you may hurt a child

If you have hurt a tamaiti or are worried you might, it is important to seek help. You can learn ways to manage your anger without hurting others.

The first step for staying in control includes making sure your tamaiti is in a safe place. Then move away from them, slowing your breathing with long deep breaths and slowly counting to 10.

You can call the family Violence Information Line on 0800-456-450 to find out about the organisations in your area that can help.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.


See also:

Sexual harm

Referral and support agencies (assault)

Page reference: 47515

Review key: HISAC-14501