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.
Learn what to look out for

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

Baby Steps

Ante-natal programme helping vulnerable parents cope with the pressures of having a baby.
Baby Steps service

Coping with Crying

Helping parents to keep calm and soothe their crying baby.
Coping with Crying service

Letting the Future In

Letting the future in helps children who have been sexually abused to recover.
Letting the Future In service

Taking Care

Helping to make sure children only return home from care when it’s safe and with the right support.
Taking Care service

Donate now

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

Make a donation

Get expert training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.
Get expert training

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

ChildLine Schools Service

Our ground-breaking ChildLine Schools Service uses specially trained volunteers to talk to primary school children about abuse. 
ChildLine 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.

Make a donation