What is considered emotional abuse?

Region: Ontario Answer # 972

In Ontario, the Child, Youth and Family Services Act says emotional abuse occurs when a parent or other person in charge causes emotional harm, or fails to protect a child from harm from verbal abuse, mental abuse and psychological abuse.  In such cases, authorities, such as provincial children’s aid societies, have the right to intervene.

Emotional abuse examples include screaming, threatening, bullying, humiliating comments, name-calling or making negative comparisons to others. It can involve showing little or no physical affection or words of praise. Emotional abuse can also include allowing a child to be present during violent behaviour, including the physical abuse of others.

Neglect includes failing to provide proper food, clothing suitable for the weather, a safe and clean home or medical care, as needed.

Children display emotional abuse by showing serious anxiety, depression, withdrawal, self-destructive or aggressive behaviour, or delayed development.

Authorities will also step in when there is only a risk of a child suffering emotional harm because of the family situation or other circumstances. This can be grounds for removal of the child from the situation.

More information about what to do if you suspect child abuse can be found from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.  If you require legal advice, contact a lawyer.


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