Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment 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 often 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, indicators and effects

Find out more about the signs, indicators 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

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

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.

Read about Childline

Children's Services

How we develop new ways to keep more children safe.
See our services

Donate now

Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

Donate now

Working with schools

We visit schools across the country, helping children understand what abuse is. We also provide professionals with advice, training and resources.
Read more

Work or volunteer with children and families?

Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.

Go to NSPCC Learning

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.

Read about Childline

Working with schools

We visit schools across the country, helping children understand what abuse is. We also provide professionals with advice, training and resources.
Read more

What you can do

Donate now

Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

Donate now

Call the NSPCC helpline

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors 24/7 for help, advice and support.

Call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Work or volunteer with children and families?

Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.

Go to NSPCC Learning