According to UNICEF violence against children can be "physical and mental abuse and injury, neglect or negligent treatment, exploitation and sexual abuse. Violence may take place in homes, schools, orphanages, residential care facilities, on the streets, in the workplace, in prisons and in places of detention."
Such violence can affect the normal development of a child impairing their mental, physical and social being. In extreme cases abuse of a child can result in death.
Child abuse has many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, and exploitation. Any of these that are potentially or actually harmful to a child's health, survival, dignity and development are abuse. This definition is derived from the W.H.O.
Physical abuse is when a child has been physically harmed due to some interaction or lack of interaction by another person, which could have been prevented by any person in a position of responsibility, trust or power.
Emotional abuse can be seen as a failure to provide a supportive environment and primary attachment figure for a child so that they may develop a full and healthy range of emotional abilities. Emotional abuse is also the act of causing harm to a child's development, when they could have been within reasonable control of a person responsible for the child. Examples of these acts are restricting movement, threatening, scaring, discriminating, ridiculing, belittling, etc. In India a rising concern is the pressure children feel to perform well in school and college examinations, which can be seen as a form of emotional stress and abuse.
Sexual abuse is engaging a child in any sexual activity that he/she does not understand or cannot give informed consent for or is not physically, mentally or emotionally prepared for. Abuse can be conducted by an adult or another child who is developmentally superior to the victim. This includes using a child for pornography, sexual materials, prostitution and unlawful sexual practises.
Neglect or negligent treatment is purposeful omission of some or all developmental needs of the child by a caregiver with the intention of harming the child. This includes the failure of protecting the child from a harmful situation or environment when feasible.
Exploitation can be commercial or otherwise, where by the child is used for some form of labour, or other activity that is beneficial for others. Example: child labour or child prostitution.