Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment or emotional neglect of a child. It’s sometimes called psychological abuse and can seriously damage a child’s emotional health and development.

Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child or isolating or ignoring them.

Children who are emotionally abused are usually suffering another type of abuse or neglect at the same time – but this isn’t always the case.

Read more about emotional abuse

Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Help and advice

Signs, symptoms and effects

Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of emotional abuse and emotional neglect.
Spotting signs of emotional abuse

Keeping children safe

How to keep children safe from emotional abuse
Keeping children safe from emotional abuse

Research and resources

Research, reports and resources about emotional abuse
See research and reports for emotional abuse

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, phone the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Children's stories

"Backing me into the corner until I was whimpering and crying, he would just laugh at me and walk away, satisfied by my distress."

Read Fiona's story

What we do about emotional abuse

Services for children, families and professionals

We work face to face with children, young people and families who need our help across the UK.
View our services

ChildLine

ChildLine is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, ChildLine is there for them – by phone, email or live chat.

0800 1111

Contact ChildLine

Have NSPCC Schools Service visit your school

If you work at a primary school in the UK and would like us to deliver an assembley and workshop get in touch.

Contact Schools Service team

Donate now

Our services are helping turn lives around. Your gift can help rebuild lives, and prevent abuse from ruining any more.

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Get expert training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.
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Specialist and bespoke child protection courses

Training on specialist child protection subjects and courses tailored to your staff's needs.
Specialist training courses

Child protection consultancy service

Tailored safeguarding and child protection support for any organisation.
Our consultancy service

ChildLine

ChildLine is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, ChildLine is there for them – by phone, email or live chat.

0800 1111

Contact ChildLine

NSPCC Schools Service

We visit 9-11 year olds in schools across the country, helping them to understand what abuse is and giving them the confidence to speak out and seek help if they ever need it.
More about our Schools Service

Donate now

Abuse changes childhoods. But so can we. Your donation will help make sure we're there, whenever a child needs us.

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