Question: Why is it exactly that the scapegoat child cannot trust their golden child sibling?
Answer: The golden child is committed to misunderstanding the scapegoat child, and in believing the smear campaign against them; the one full of lies.
What I am about to write about is not inclusive of every golden child. Some golden children do not exhibit any of the traits relating to this article and have the integrity enough to see right through the narcissist, tell the narcissist that they are in the wrong, and to stand by the scapegoat’s side. It is likely that if the golden child honours their scapegoated sibling in this way, (which is highly unusual) both children will be discarded from the family for having dared challenge the narcissist.
When I write about narcissism, I write about what I have witnessed happen in families where there is a narcissistic parent. The particular situation I am about to discuss runs rampant throughout narcissistic families’, and is more common than not.
My primary belief about the golden child (who forms a nasty alliance with the narcissist against the scapegoat) is that they are completely unaware of what they are doing and that they have been completely brainwashed by the narcissist. However, that being said, the golden child still makes an executive decision to aid the narcissist in their smear campaigns of the people who expose the narcissist, challenge the narcissist, or who simply have a difference of opinion from the narcissist.
Why does the golden child choose to side with the narcissist?
The narcissist lives and breathes to influence the golden child’s perception of the scapegoat. Through daily put-downs of the scapegoat, exaggerations, and half-truths about the scapegoat, the narcissist will gradually erode the golden child’s perception of their scapegoated sibling. At times mind control sessions will occur on an hourly basis (not daily, hourly).
As the scapegoat becomes older, more defiant and defensive against the abuse, the narcissist will begin to fear exposure, and will suddenly turn the tables on the scapegoat. This is when they will tell all kinds of outrageous lies about the scapegoat, and work especially hard to turn the golden child against their sibling.
By the time the scapegoat exposes the narcissist, the narcissist (who knew this was coming all along) has already pulled one over the scapegoat; and now nobody in the family will believe the scapegoat when they begin to the claim that there is something wrong with the family system.
A close relationship between the scapegoat and the golden child?
A close relationship between the scapegoat and golden child, will in fact, inevitably be destroyed by the narcissist. This will happen because the narcissist has been moulding the golden child’s perceptions of the scapegoat since birth. Eventually, the golden child will completely forfeit the close relationship they may have with the scapegoat (if they were ever close, to begin with), and will act out the narcissist’s contempt of the scapegoat through their body language, verbal language, and utter nastiness.
Any signs of anger or emotional confusion from the scapegoat about the treatment of them during the devaluation phase will be perceived by the narcissist and the golden child as symptoms of a severe mental health issue within the scapegoat; instead of a pretty normal reaction to vile abuse.
The narcissist’s intent is to push the scapegoat over the edge, so as all eyes are off them, and on the scapegoat instead. All of this happens because the scapegoat brings to the forefront the narcissist’s shortcomings.
The golden child’s relationship with the parent:
The golden child is bought by the narcissist, given the best of everything, and doted on daily. They are also continually groomed and hoovered by the parent, told just how entitled or special they are, and are reminded by the parent just how similar they are to them. We mustn’t forget that this child represents to the narcissist all of the goodness in them.
The narcissistic parent will encourage the other siblings’ to also adore the golden child too, to do everything for the golden child, and to love this child until no end.
This child is always right, never punished for harming the other siblings’, and their misdeeds are shoved under the carpet. All of their misdeeds are projected onto the scapegoat, and the scapegoat becomes the golden child’s fall guy early on in the piece.
The scapegoat’s relationship with the parent:
The scapegoat is despised in childhood. Some theories suggest that the scapegoat is the whistleblower or the truth teller in the family. However, the narcissist will claim that this child is treated differently for obvious reasons. They have apparently always been a difficult child; while of course, the golden child wasn’t. However, if the scapegoat was as adored, and never disciplined to extreme measures, like their golden child sibling, then the scapegoat child would have nothing to be upset about now, would they?
Excuses are always made by the narcissistic parent to explain away the abuse of the scapegoated child.
Challenges me all the time
They’re out of control
These claims made by the narcissist are most likely true. However, the narcissist is prone to exaggeration, and these behaviours are fairly normal in children; some more so than others. The narcissist cannot tolerate ordinary child-like behaviour because in their eyes they are entitled to have complete control over the child. In the narcissistic family, normal childlike behaviour such as squabbling between siblings, or a bit of back chatting is used against the children. The children who refuse to be seen and not heard are assessed by the narcissist as being problematic. For example; crying is pretty much prohibited in this family system, or explained away as crocodile tears and attention seeking.
The scapegoat grows up living in the golden child’s shadow. When they get upset about it, and have the audacity to have an argument with the narcissist about the issue, they are told that they are insane, have mental health problems, and are out of control. They may even be told that they are very similar to other people that the narcissist deems as crazy, such as relatives or friends.
The narcissist hopes that by denigrating this child they will be able to control the child. This tactic usually goes the other way for the narcissist. Instead, the scapegoat becomes distressed at the accusations hurled at them, and one day discloses the abuse.
Meanwhile, the golden child sits back and feels very special while this is happening to the scapegoat. The abuse of the scapegoat not only keeps this child out of the limelight, but it reinforces to the golden child what a good child they are, and what a bad child the scapegoat is.
Lets get one thing Straight: The golden child isn’t any better than the scapegoated child. They just haven’t been scapegoated; that is the difference.
Cinderella Syndrome: So, here we have a very real case of ‘Cinderella syndrome,’ which of course the golden – child revels in.
Abuse in silence:
A lot of the narcissist’s abuse towards the scapegoat is done behind closed doors, in private where other family members’ are unable to directly witness events which signify extreme abuse. Acts of subtle abuse, on the other hand, are committed in front of the entire family and are accepted by these family members as a consequence of the scapegoat’s behaviour. These family members’ have fallen prey to the brainwashing tactics of the narcissist, and now also believe, along with the narcissistic parent that the scapegoat’s normal childlike behaviour, is the behaviour of a child with something seriously wrong with them.
”It all depends on what the narcissist wants people to hear”
Abuse of the scapegoat is also initiated very subtly in front of the neighbours, friends, work colleagues, or even the coffee shop owner. Often, friends’, colleagues’, and family members’ accidentally perpetuate the abuse by telling the scapegoat that they are cheeky, should smile more, or that they have a sour persona. This reinforces to the scapegoated child that they are the problem.
Common phrases made to the narcissist’s minions:
‘She’s just like my mother. (A very abusive person who destroyed the life of the narcissist)
‘My goodness, she’s just like my sister Samantha,’ (who apparently also has emotional regulation problems).
‘That child of mine is so unhappy all the time. I don’t know what to do.’
These comments are said day in day out, sometimes five or six times in an hour. It is no wonder that the golden – child has a distorted perception of the scapegoat. They’re under the spell of mind control.
These continuous despicable comments eventually turn everybody against the scapegoat. So when the scapegoat acts out and claims that they are being treated unfairly, everybody, including the golden child, just thinks to themselves, ‘they’re crazy.’
A consequence of the scapegoat’s position in the family is that it enables the golden child, along with the other siblings, to blame their poor behaviour towards the scapegoat, on the scapegoat. Somehow, in some way, the scapegoat will always be blamed for the abuse hurled upon them.
The mind control that the narcissist has over the golden – child is a sure investment to the narcissist. Whenever the narcissistic parent requires the golden child’s allegiance against the scapegoat, the golden child will provide the narcissistic supply that the narcissist is asking for.
The narcissist has no empathy and no conscience; which means that they have absolutely no issue whatsoever with pushing the scapegoat over the edge emotionally. This way everybody will look to the scapegoat’s unusual behaviour, and focus on that rather than the narcissist.
Why must the scapegoat child never completely trust the golden child?
The golden child and the scapegoat child are sometimes good friends in childhood; best friends even. However, in most cases, the golden child will not accept that the scapegoat has been abused beyond belief. Deep down they too have internalised that the scapegoat is the crazy person, not the reverse.
They honestly don’t get it, and how could they? Most of the time people cannot empathise with an abused individual unless they’ve experienced something similar. Not once does the golden child ever question the impact the severe emotional abuse inflicted on the scapegoat, by the narcissist, may actually have on their sibling.
The scapegoat must never ever fully trust the golden child, under any circumstances. At the end of the day, it is most likely that when it comes down to it the golden child will always align with the narcissist.
They have had their perception of the scapegoat distorted at a young age, and unless they have an epiphany, this perception will most likely never change.
They have an investment in believing the lies. If they don’t, they will end up being scapegoated too.
The narcissist has been investing financially in this child since they were born, which subconsciously makes the golden child feel very loyal to the narcissist.
They’ve just bought themselves a soldier in their army, a conqueror, and a secondary abuser to put the scapegoat back in their place when they challenge the abuse.
The golden child is most likely suffering from cognitive dissonance, and cannot see past the good stuff the narcissist does for them. However, the golden child has seen the narcissist treat people appallingly; and has chosen not to acknowledge it.
What the scapegoat needs to understand about their relationship with the golden child:
The relationship with this child was never real and never had a chance. Relationships can’t exist when there is mind control involved or the likes of a dangerous manipulator.
The entitlement of the golden child:
The golden child believes they are so much better than their scapegoat sibling, who just cannot behave (apparently).
The golden child can be very two-faced. With entitlement can often come nastiness. Their specialness makes it ok for them to sit and laugh at the scapegoat behind their back, smear the scapegoat’s name, and continually put the scapegoat down.
The golden child has a sense entitlement, and they believe that everybody should treat them in a special manner.
The golden child:
has no loyalty to the scapegoat.
will sit and listen to the slander about the scapegoat, and all of the other people the narcissist can’t stand.
never apologises for anything, and never ever sees themselves as being at fault.
will never stand up for the scapegoat or anyone else for that matter, because to do so would be to cross the narcissist.
The sad fact is that the golden – child doesn’t care. Its all about the survival of the fittest in this family, and if the golden child needs to turn on their sibling to keep in favour of a vile human being. Well, so be it.
It is absolutely imperative that scapegoated children, even in adulthood, never fully trust their golden child sibling; because unbeknown to the scapegoat child, the golden-child, even in early childhood, has taken on board the brainwashing tactics of the narcissist. Deep down, regardless of a friendship with the scapegoat child, or not, the golden child will always believe that the scapegoat is fundamentally floored.
This is what the evidence suggests about the scapegoat in the eyes of the golden – child:
The golden child has witnessed the scapegoat:
have emotional meltdowns
engage in big arguments with the narcissist
Golden child as judgemental:
The golden child is very judgemental and does not understand that these reactions are very normal reactions to a disgusting amount of psychological abuse.
The development of an alliance between golden child and narcissist: A scenario
In adulthood, the scapegoat may begin to tell people about their abuse, including the enabling parent. When they do this, and the truth becomes uncovered, the narcissist will take the scapegoat out, and destroy their relationships with the other siblings.
How does the narcissist use the golden – child to take the scapegoated adult child out ? A scenario
Narcissists are very revengeful: They will plot for months, or even years to get somebody back for some supposed slight that didn’t happen as they see it (like a scapegoat pouring their heart out to a family member about being on the receiving end of severe mental abuse).
First, the narcissist will hoover the scapegoat into the family by love bombing them. The scapegoat will find it odd that the person whom they have exposed is now making them soup, buying them things, and suddenly being very kind to them.
The scapegoat will believe in their mind that they have made amends with their parent, and that the parent has forgiven them for exposing the truth. However, they will notice that the tension heightens when they enter the room and that their siblings are acting strangely around them. The scapegoat will know for months in advance that something is wrong; they just won’t be able to put their finger on it.
The final showdown may happen at a function, or while the scapegoat is visiting the parent, who appears to want them around. I have heard many stories where a scapegoat is vilified in front of everyone at a function; only to have the scapegoat’s original suspicions clarified. The tension they originally felt around the family was very real. The narcissist had been sitting around with the help of the golden – child smearing the scapegoat’s name to the entire family.
Mind control is in full force: Finally, one of the children will have enough (most likely a golden child sibling – (there can be more than one) and blast the scapegoat. When the scapegoat questions the parent in private, their supposed slight of the narcissist will most likely be mentioned to the scapegoat as a reason as to why the discard occurred. The other children will most likely never know that this was all a revenge plot by the narcissist. At this point, the golden child will show no remorse for what has happened.
Redeveloping a relationship with the golden child:
I personally believe that the golden child has already shown the scapegoat who they are, and that the scapegoat should really take this into account. The golden child cannot be trusted, and they have most likely shown this to be true on several occasions.
Possibilities for a relationship may occur after the narcissist dies. However, the scapegoat will never be able to trust the golden child again, because when it suits them, they’ll just turn against their scapegoated sibling, as a way to avoid all accountability for their own vile behaviour. The only element that will change in this scenario is who they side with.
Until the golden child’s perception of the scapegoat changes, which is unlikely, the scapegoat may need to sever all ties with the golden child and kiss the relationship goodbye.
Do you know someone who is the son of a narcissistic mother? If so, then you should know that the sons of narcissistic mothers usually have a very difficult childhood. This is because a narcissistic mother feels a very strong need to control her son, and she will do whatever she can to make him into her perfect image.
The damage this does to her son can be significant, and it often affects his future relationships with women. Thankfully, there are now several online communities who support survivors of narcissistic abuse, and they offer invaluable support and advice.
Is the son the scapegoat or the golden child?
The way a narcissistic mother feels about her son will depend on whether he is the golden childor the scapegoat. The golden child is the one who meets all of her expectations and makes her look good to others, while the scapegoat is the one who constantly disappoints her and makes her look bad.
If you are the son of a narcissistic mother, it’s important to understand which role you play in your narcissistic family. This will help you to better understand why you feel the way you do, and it will also give you some clues as to how to overcome these feelings.
SoNM – The damage done by a narcissistic mother
The damage that a narcissistic mother can do to her son is immense. She may make him feel like he is never good enough, and she may constantly criticize him. She may also make him feel guilty and ashamed of who he is. All of this can have a profound impact on the way he sees himself, and it can lead to a lot of emotional pain in later life.
The future for sons of narcissistic mothers
The future for sons of narcissistic mothers is not necessarily bleak. There are many men out there who have overcome the challenges that they faced during their childhoods, and are now living happy and successful lives. However, it’s important to realize that this won’t be easy, and it will require a lot of hard work and determination.
If you are the son of a narcissistic mother, then I encourage you to seek out help and support of other SoNM adults who grew up in narcissistic families like yours. There is strength in numbers.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it – it can make all the difference.
You might also want to check out the following posts about the impact of childhood distress and trauma on children:
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me. At no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for all my readers.
Many survivors experience similar impacts from the abuse. These can include anxiety, depression, suicidality, feelings of worthlessness, shame, anger and self-blame as well as struggles with trust, intimacy and other relationship problems, identity issues and addictions and clashes with authorities. Male survivors also face some unique impacts. Some of these arise from the expectations about men in our society.
We believe that your survival is testament to your resilience
We provide connections with others who have walked a similar path and focus on the way forward to recovery and growth.
SAMSN’s Eight-week Support Groups, led by male facilitators with professional training, have a trauma informed approach that prioritises your safety and focuses on recovery and healing.
SAMSN’s Monthly Meetings provide a forum for connections and conversations about recovery, and opportunities for learning from each other.
We recognise the additional issues for more marginalised groups of men
Men who are not from the dominant white, male culture face additional challenges of stereotyping in relation to their identity as men. This includes Aboriginal men, those from culturally diverse backgrounds, prisoners, men from rural and remote areas, men in the military, men with disabilities, men from the LGBTQI communities and older men. These men experience additional layers of discrimination, shame, isolation and have often have less access to support.
We are building a network of survivors who are finding their pathways to recovery & healing
Despite the impacts of the abuse and the additional societal challenges, boys and men find ways to survive and manage these many challenges. You are a survivor.
Some of the things we know can build a strong and healthy sense of self are:
Knowledge – getting some facts and information about abuse, about emotions, about impacts and services available
Safety – within yourself, safe in your key relationships, and a safe place
Self-acceptance – realization that the abuse doesn’t define you, and accepting that others believe that too
Commonality – that you can find others who understand, knowing you are not alone
Control – you can make decisions, choices, and that things can change
Hope – for justice, a desire for change, finding a way to turn this into something that gives back
NOTES As pieces from SAMSN have been related to parts of my NRS – Apologies coping issues, I felt that some generalised parts of their site + Spoken Podcasts + hearing from more, in our growing community. Unsure how each of us will deal with ’Recovery + Healing’, each of us has different ways that we live. Even the final paragraph introduces some of the atypical parts of society, which are gradually growing larger/“more accepted”. Stereotypes may have a new definition in 100 yrs; yet right now Aboriginal Indigenous, culturally diverse, disabled, LGBTQI & aged sectors are targeted. Alike child sexual abuse, this should stop – alongside sexism + so many of the other ’ism’s.
Now realising that I too have been grouped as part of the ‘bad apples’, perhaps if a collective group with other BadApples could be joined-or-started! Through continuing amounts of surviving-victims coming forward, the ‘occasional’ is growing to wider audiences there’ll be less ‘pots calling kettles black’ + more merging of a multi-levelled society.
Now realising that I too have been grouped as one of the ‘bad apples’, perhaps if a collective group with other BadApples could be joined-or-started! Through continuing amounts of surviving-victims coming forward, the ‘occasional’ is growing to wider audiences there’ll be less ‘pots calling kettles black’ + more merging of a multi-levelled sharing. Probably how our nation appears in front of the camera!
‘Cognitive dissonance’, ‘monopolised’, ‘excluded’, ‘negative attitude’ & ‘victim-blaming’ were included in a recent therapy appt. Following which, another surviving-victim began having an early-stage discussion of what was involved in both finding out more + preparing for meets with knowmore! Karma, Murphy’s luck, or pieces of reality fitting together?
Not that RCbbc or SBDC_rc wishes to promote any 25th Anniversary of the ‘Crash Test Dummies‘ Band’s God Shuffled His Feet, their commonly used (satirical?) phrase is significant.
In what may have been one of this RoyalCommBBC’s founder’s initial memories; As a toddler👶, who was still forming awareness of sounds & speech; an early, longterm memory had begun to be planted, by a supposedly ‘innocent & friendly, social encounter’ …
Reminders of what would develop years later, with the ‘Crash Test Dummies‘ use of the term; babies + toddlers were treated as virtual “first model cars“, that could be upgraded with “future children in your families” <mothers’ group>. Oh what joy, when this happens amongst ‘christian’ families. As proven by other NRS Submissions, more of a target may have been presumed amongst the nativity of “pure + innocent godsquad folk” … 🤷🏿♀️😱
Of recent interest/concern was that #GunViolence developing (uncontrollably) in America, is a practical version of much of there tension that has been avoided in ‘holy-christian-church™’ environments. In Australia. Amongst the same ‘loving-caring-christian’ family, who’re yet to admit … perhaps if the above 🖼️ was republished as ‘Crash Parenting for DUMMIES’? Sales could be unexpectedly high. (losses of 1st born child excused … 🤷🏿♀️?!)
If you require assistance or would like to talk to a trained professional about the issues described in this paper please call Kids Helpline(link is external) on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline(link is external) on 13 11 14.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger call Police on 000.
Overview The purpose of this resource sheet is to provide practitioners, policy makers and researchers with a working definition of child abuse and neglect. It provides a general definition of child abuse and neglect and definitions of the five commonly regarded subtypes.
The resource sheet provides information about: whether the abuse types constitute grounds for protection of a child under child protection law; and whether the abuse types are a crime under criminal law, with the possibility of punishment of the offender.
Introduction For individuals working with children, it is important to be able to recognise child abuse and neglect when they come across it. For example, if a practitioner knows that, or has reason to believe that, a child is being hit or disciplined in a concerning way, the first question the practitioner must ask themselves – is this, or might this be, child abuse? If a practitioner believes or suspects child abuse or neglect, then a report must be made to child protection or the police (for more detail, see Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect).
Throughout this resource sheet, the term ‘children and young people’ is used. Although young people under the age of 18 are legally children (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2018)1, calling a young person a child can fail to acknowledge some important differences between children and young people, such as the difference in their desire and capacity for self-determination.
It is important to note that within much of the professional literature the terms ‘child abuse and neglect’ and ‘child maltreatment’ are used interchangeably. In this resource sheet, the term ‘child abuse and neglect’ is adopted because this is the term that is most commonly used in Australia.
Definition The World Health Organization ([WHO], 2006, p. 9) defines child abuse and neglect as:
All forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
All forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Definitions of child abuse and neglect can include adults, young people and older children as the perpetrators of the abuse. It is commonly stated in legislation that the term ‘child abuse and neglect’ refers to behaviours and treatment that result in the actual and/or likelihood of harm to the child or young person. Furthermore, such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional and can include acts of omission (i.e. neglect) and commission (i.e. abuse) (Bromfield, 2005; Child Family Community Australia [CFCA], 2016).
Legal definitions of child abuse and neglect Definitions of child abuse and neglect can be both legal and medical/psychological. Legal definitions tend to be broad, while medical definitions (such as what is provided by WHO, 2006) usually provide a more detailed explanation.
The way legislation defines child abuse and neglect matters. These laws have a direct influence on the outcomes of cases that are brought before a court. Legal definitions affect the attitudes and decisions of lawyers and judges. They affect the policies and practices of child protection agencies, and the training and attitudes of practitioners generally (Tomison & Tucci, 1997). They also set out acceptable standards of behaviour for the community (Australian Law Reform Commission [ALRC], 2010; Mathews & Bross, 2014).
There are two legal systems set up to respond to and prevent child abuse and neglect (ALRC, 2010; Plum, 2014):
the civil legal system
the criminal legal system.
The differences between the two legal systems are outlined in Table 1.
Child protection proceedings focus on whether the child is in need of protection (ALRC, 2010; Plum, 2014). They do not make a judgment about the guilt of an accused. For example, a child may have alleged sexual abuse by a parent. Although the truth of these allegations is clearly relevant to the child’s future safety, the focus of the child protection court is solely on the child’s future safety. The criminal court may have judged an individual innocent of the crime of child sexual abuse but this does not mean that the civil child protection courts cannot make a ruling about the future safety of the child.
A child protection response is not, nor should it be, contingent on securing a conviction. (ALRC, 2010, p. 939).
Criminal proceedings focus on judging the guilt of the accused, with the outcome providing for the punishment of the offender. Criminal proceedings generally focus on the past. An exception to this is the placement of a convicted child sex offender on a sex offender register, which is future focused and based on crimes the offender may commit in the future (Plum, 2014).
Subtypes of child abuse and neglect Different types of child abuse and neglect have different features. It is important to distinguish between what are commonly regarded as the five main subtypes of child abuse and neglect:
exposure to family violence.
The features of these subtypes are detailed below. Box 1 unpacks some of the difficulties and controversies around defining these five subtypes.
Box 1: Difficulties and controversies around defining the subtypes
Although there is a broad consensus on the five subtypes of child abuse and neglect (see below), disagreement exists about exactly how to define and therefore recognise these subtypes. For example:
Parenting practices that are acceptable in one culture may be considered abusive in another culture. Some parenting practices are abusive regardless of culture. It can be difficult to know the difference. There is debate in the literature (Broadley, 2014) – and variation across Australian jurisdictions (CFCA, 2016) – on whether definitions of child abuse should refer to the parental behaviours or to the harm to the child, or whether evidence of both should be required for its recognition (e.g. do we need to know that a parent has hit a child and for there to be a resulting injury to constitute physical abuse?).
Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether the parental behaviours are harmful enough to constitute child abuse. For example, in neglect cases practitioners can have different perceptions about what constitutes ‘good enough’ parenting (Turney, Platt, Selwyn, & Farmer, 2012).
The child protection legislation used in many Australian jurisdictions defines child abuse as a behaviour or action that causes a child significant harm. It can be difficult to know the point at which a child is suffering significant harm.
The child protection legislation used in many Australian jurisdictions also defines child abuse as a behaviour that is likely to cause significant harm. However, it can be difficult, even impossible, to predict whether a child who is apparently suffering no harm or suffering minor harm is likely to suffer significant harm in the future.
There is also the tricky issue of intent. Although there is no consensus among experts about whether the intent to cause harm is a necessary component of child abuse and neglect, some suggest that notions of culpability, motive and intent are important to many practitioners when making decisions about whether to describe an incident as child abuse and neglect (Platt & Turney, 2013).
Many parents who neglect their children do not intend to do so. Many of these parents struggle with issues such as poverty or a disability. When these issues are present, there is a responsibility on the state to provide support and assistance to the family. Are there limits on what support and assistance the state is to be expected to give?
Is child abuse and neglect an objective or subjective reality? For example, if legislators, policy makers and practitioners say that a sexual ‘relationship’ between a 19 year old and a 15 year old is sexual abuse but the 15 year old says that it is not, whose opinion holds the most weight? How might these judgements change as the age gap becomes greater?
It is not possible to provide definite answers to any of these questions. By drawing from research, their experience, using empathy and listening well, practitioners must exercise good professional judgement as they work with each unique child in each unique context. It is also important for human services, health, criminal justice and other professionals to make decisions collaboratively. For example, in the case of Indigenous children and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, it is important to involve specialist cultural advisers in planning and decision making.
The WHO (2006, p. 10) defines child physical abuse as:
The intentional use of physical force against a child that results in – or has a high likelihood of resulting in – harm for the child’s health, survival, development or dignity. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence against children in the home is inflicted with the object of punishing.
In all Australian jurisdictions, civil child protection legislation exists to protect children and young people from physical abuse. As previously stated, this civil legislation does not focus on the innocence or guilt of the alleged perpetrator, instead it focuses on the safety – particularly the future safety – of the child.
Jurisdictional criminal laws in Australia deal with severe cases of child physical abuse (such as those resulting in permanent or fatal injury) as offences of violence. The specific wording of these laws varies across jurisdictions (ALRC, 2010).
There is controversy about whether offences against children such as child physical abuse should be contained in civil child protection or criminal legislation. For example, some submissions to the ALRC (2010) argued that child abuse offences should be located in the criminal law and that violence against a child should not be considered less serious than such acts against an adult. Alternatively, it was suggested that such offences should be located in civil child protection legislation, then decisions about whether to recommend criminal action could be managed by child welfare experts.
The Commission’s view was that the best way forward was through cooperative relationships between professionals (i.e. child protection workers, police, health professionals and other human services workers), who can make joint decisions about which legislation to use depending on factors such as the nature and severity of the child abuse offence (ALRC, 2010). On the basis of the submissions received, the Commission made no specific recommendation for change.
Emotional abuse is also sometimes called ‘emotional maltreatment’, ‘psychological maltreatment’ and ‘psychological abuse’.
Emotional abuse refers to a parent or caregiver’s inappropriate verbal or symbolic acts towards a child and/or a pattern of failure over time to provide a child with adequate non-physical nurturing and emotional availability. Such acts of commission or omission are likely to damage a child’s self-esteem or social competence (Bromfield, 2005; Garbarino, Guttman, & Seeley, 1986; WHO, 2006). According to a popular conception by Garbarino and colleagues (1986, p. 8), emotional abuse takes five main behavioural forms:
rejecting: the adult refuses to acknowledge the child’s worth and the legitimacy of the child’s needs
isolating: the adult cuts the child off from normal social experiences, prevents the child from forming friendships and makes the child believe that he or she is alone in the world
terrorising: the adult verbally assaults the child, creates a climate of fear, bullies and frightens the child, and makes the child believe that the world is capricious and hostile
ignoring: the adult deprives the child of essential stimulation and responsiveness, stifling emotional growth and intellectual development
corrupting: the adult ‘mis-socialises’ the child, stimulates the child to engage in destructive antisocial behaviour, reinforces that deviance, and makes the child unfit for normal social experience. In all Australian jurisdictions, emotional abuse is grounds for ‘when a child is in need of protection’ (CFCA, 2016). These civil child protection laws enable child protection practitioners to intervene in cases of emotional abuse and make an application to the children’s court for a child’s protection. However, the difficulties in doing this are well documented (Broadley, 2014; Goddard, 1996; Sheehan, 2006).
In most jurisdictions child protection practitioners are required to provide the children’s court with evidence of a link between the actions of a parent and the outcomes for a child (Bromfield & Higgins, 2004). In cases of emotional abuse it can be ‘difficult, even impossible, to prove a direct link between the abuse and/or neglectful parental behaviours and the poor child outcomes’ (Broadley, 2014, p. 272).
Given these challenges, it is particularly important for child protection and child welfare professionals to work collaboratively to support families to build protective factors and protect children from emotional abuse.
According to WHO (2006, p. 10):
Neglect includes both isolated incidents, as well as a pattern of failure over time on the part of a parent or other family member to provide for the development and wellbeing of the child – where the parent is in a position to do so – in one or more of the following areas:
shelter and safe living conditions. In all Australian jurisdictions, neglect is grounds for ‘when a child is in need of protection’ (CFCA, 2016). These cases can be difficult for child protection practitioners to take before the child protection court, particularly if the concerning parental behaviours are low impact and high frequency (as opposed to high impact and low frequency). The difficulty may be in proving a link between the parental behaviours and/or omissions and the child outcomes.
Courts may also be reluctant to determine a child needs protection when the parents are poor or when for some other reason they struggle to provide for their child’s basic needs. In these situations, there is a responsibility on the state to provide support and assistance to the parents; and the parents have a responsibility to engage with and utilise these supports (CFCA, 2016). NSW child protection legislation explicitly states that the children’s court ‘cannot conclude that the basic needs of a child or young person are likely not to be met only because of a parent’s or primary care-giver’s disability or poverty’ (CFCA, 2016).
In many Australian jurisdictions it is a criminal offence for those with parental responsibility to fail to provide a child with basic needs such as accommodation, food, education and health care. Across the jurisdictions, these laws are all drafted differently. For example, in the Northern Territory the offence relates to a child under two years. In NSW and Queensland, the offence relates to a child under seven years (ALRC, 2010).
For a more detailed overview of the issues surrounding child neglect, see the CFCA paper Understanding Child Neglect.
The WHO (2006, p. 10) defines child sexual abuse as:
The involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared, or else that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Children can be sexually abused by both adults and other children who are – by virtue of their age or stage of development – in a position of responsibility, trust or power over the victim.
In all Australian jurisdictions, sexual abuse is grounds for ‘when a child is in need of protection’ (CFCA, 2016). Commonly the child will not have a parent who has or who is likely to protect them.
Various jurisdictions have civil child protection legislation that provides for specific types of sexual abuse. For example, in the Northern Territory it is ‘involving the child as a participant or spectator … (in) an act of a sexual nature’ (CFCA, 2016); and in New South Wales where a child under the age of 14 has exhibited sexually abusive behaviours and requires intervention and treatment (CFCA, 2016).
There is a diversity of perpetrator characteristics, relationships and contexts within which child sexual abuse occurs (Quadara, Nagy, Higgins, & Siegel, 2015). In this resource sheet these different types of child sexual abuse are presented as:
adult abusers with no familial relationship to the child
adult abusers who are family members of the child
adult abusers who are in a position of power or authority over the child
sexual abuse that is perpetrated by children and young people
sibling sexual abuse
online child sexual abuse
commercial child sexual exploitation.
Australian jurisdictional criminal laws are referred to in each of these types.
Adult abusers with no familial relationship to the child
Extra-familial child sexual abuse is sexual abuse that is perpetrated by acquaintances of the child victim or the child victim’s family (Quadara et al., 2015).
Criminal laws across Australia consider sexual abuse to be sexual activity between any adult and a child under the age of consent. The age of consent is 16 years in most Australian jurisdictions (see CFCA resource sheet Age of Consent Laws for a more detailed discussion). Therefore, in Australia, consensual sexual activity between a 20 year old and a 15 year old is a crime, while in most jurisdictions2 the same activity between a 20 year old and a 17 year old is not a crime.
Under civil child protection legislation, a child or young person is in need of protection from an extra-familial abuser if the parents or carers are unwilling or unable (or are likely to be unwilling or unable) to protect the child or young person from the sexual abuse.
Adult abusers who are family members of the child
Intra-familial child sexual abuse is considered to be the most prevalent type of child sexual abuse (Quadara et al., 2015). Perpetrators within this context include fathers, mothers, step-fathers, step-mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. (The following sections ‘Sexual abuse that is perpetrated by children and young people’ and ‘Sibling sexual abuse’ can involve intra-familial child sexual abuse.)
In most Australian jurisdictions, sexual activity in the context of biological, step-family and adoptive relationships are covered by incest provisions (ALRC, 2010). In some jurisdictions, the incest offence applies regardless of age. In other jurisdictions, general child sexual abuse offences are applicable to children and the incest offence relates to situations where the victim is over the age of 16 years (ALRC, 2010).
Under child protection legislation, a child or young person needs protection from an intra-familial abuser if there is no parent or carer who is (or who is likely to be) willing and able to protect the child or young person from the sexual abuse.
Adult abusers who are in a position of power or authority over the child
Child sexual abuse occurs when there is any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult in a position of power or authority over them (e.g. a teacher).
Under child protection legislation a child or young person needs protection if the parents or carers are not able, or are unlikely to be willing, to protect the child or young person from the sexual abuse.
The general age of consent laws are inapplicable in these cases due to the strong imbalance of power that exists between children and young people and authority figures, as well as the breach of personal and public trust that occurs when professional boundaries are violated. For example, in NSW there is a provision for the criminal offence of ‘sexual intercourse with a child between 16 and 18 under special care’ (e.g. when the adult is a teacher, health professional or religious leader) (ALRC, 2010; Australian Legal Information Institute, 2018).
Sexual abuse that is perpetrated by children and young people
The terminology used to describe child sexual abuse that is perpetrated by children and young people is changeable (El-Murr, 2017). It is important not to demonise the children and young people engaging in the abusive behaviour by calling them perpetrators or sex offenders (El-Murr, 2017; Fernandez, 2016). These children and young people are still developing and growing. Labelling them may shame them and may deter them and their families from engaging with treatment and support (Fernandez, 2016).
However, it is important not to deny or minimise the harm that these children and young people cause to their victims and to themselves (El-Murr, 2017; Fernandez, 2016). El-Murr (2017) uses the term ‘problem sexual behaviours’ to describe ‘sexual behaviours that lie outside the range of age-appropriate behaviours and are demonstrated by children below the age of criminal responsibility’, and ‘sexually abusive behaviours’ as ‘behaviours displayed by those 10 up to 18 years and which have legal consequences’ but acknowledges that these terms also have their risks (see CFCA paper Problem Sexual Behaviours and Sexually Abusive Behaviours in Australian Children and Young People for a more detailed discussion).
Research suggests that this type of sexual abuse is common, and that children and young people are most likely to experience sexual harm from other children and young people (El-Murr, 2017). Such abuse often involves an older child or young person coercing or forcing a child who is younger, smaller or where there are marked developmental differences (e.g. if the victim child has a disability) into sexual activity (El-Murr, 2017). Even when there is no information to suggest coercion, manipulation or force, this does not mean an absence of manipulation or pressure. If a child’s sexual activity is out of the ordinary for his or her age, then regardless of whether or not there is an apparent power imbalance, professional help should be sought.
Some Australian jurisdictions have child protection legislation (e.g. New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria) that allows for a diversionary pathway in place of a criminal justice response (El-Murr, 2017). In most other jurisdictions these offences are dealt with by the criminal division of the children’s court (El-Murr, 2017).
In some jurisdictions young people who have been found guilty of a child sexual abuse offence may be included on the sex offender register (Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), 2014).
Sibling sexual abuse
Research suggests that sibling sexual abuse occurs at similar or higher rates to other types of intra-familial sexual abuse (Quadara et al., 2015; Stathopoulos, 2012). This type of sexual abuse is when there is sexual activity between a child or young person and a sibling that is non-consensual or coercive, or where there is an inequality of power or development between them.
As stated above, there is civil child protection legislation in some Australian jurisdictions to enable therapeutic treatment for these children and young people in place of a criminal justice response. In other jurisdictions the question of whether there will be criminal justice intervention will depend on the age of the children and the nature of the offence (El-Murr, 2017).
Although consensual and (apparently) non-coercive sexual behaviour between similarly aged siblings may not be considered child sexual abuse, it is considered problematic and harmful, and professional intervention should be sought.
Online child sexual abuse
Online child sexual abuse can cause additional harm to children and young people beyond the abusive experience itself (Quayle, 2013). Due to digital technology, offenders are able to take photos and videos of children and young people being sexually abused with little cost or effort, and often in the privacy of their own homes (Broughton, 2009). They are then able to communicate with other offenders via the internet and distribute their material online. These photos and videos are a permanent product of the abuse. They may resurface at any time and this leaves victims with a lifelong fear of exposure, exacerbating the damage (Broughton, 2009; Quayle, 2013). Offenders often use these images to manipulate victims into silence by threatening exposure should the child or young person ever talk about the abuse (Broughton, 2009).
Online child sexual abuse may also involve sexting (sending messages with sexual photos or videos via a mobile phone or posting online) (Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, 2017). A decision about whether or not sexting constitutes child sexual abuse will depend on the particulars of the situation, including the ages of the children and young people involved. Sexting laws differ across Australian jurisdictions. For example, in Victoria it is a criminal offence for someone over the age of 18 years to send an image of someone who is under the age of 18 years posing in an indecent sexual manner to a third party, even if the child or young person has given consent (Victoria Legal Aid, 2014). (See CFCA resource sheet Images of Children and Young People Online for further details).
Civil child protection legislation provides protection for children and young people who are or who are likely to be victims of online child sexual abuse. This may, for example, involve statutory child protection authorities intervening to protect a child whose parent has accessed child exploitation material on the internet.
Online child sexual abuse and child exploitation material offences over the internet are international crimes constituting a global problem (Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, 2017). Online child sexual offences are dealt with in Commonwealth and jurisdictional criminal legislation. These laws cover access, possession, distribution and the making of material. Although there are definitional differences across jurisdictions, all Australian jurisdictions agree that such activities and materials must be criminalised (Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, 2017).
Commercial child sexual exploitation
Commercial child sexual exploitation includes:
the production and distribution of child exploitation material
exploiting children for prostitution (sometimes called child prostitution), which may involve promising money, food, clothing, accommodation or drugs to a child, or more often to a third person, in exchange for sexually abusing the child
the abduction and trafficking of children for sexual abuse purposes, which can occur within or across countries
sexual exploitation of children in the context of tourism (sometimes called child sex tourism)3 where individuals (generally Western men) travel from higher to lower income countries for the purpose of sexually exploiting children (Cameron et al., 2015; Interagency Working Group in Luxembourg, 2016; Johnson, 2014).
In Australia, the individual states and territories have their own unique sets of laws that criminalise all forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Although there are differences in how it is defined across jurisdictions, there is an overall commitment to working with other governments (domestic and international) to prevent commercial child sexual exploitation, to prosecute perpetrators and to protect victims (Cameron et al., 2015). For example, in Australia the sexual exploitation of children in the context of tourism offences have been in place since 1994. In 2010 the laws were reformed to broaden the scope of criminalised activities and increase penalties. The Australian Federal Police are active in their efforts to protect children in foreign countries and to prosecute child sex offenders in the context of tourism. There have been a number of successful prosecutions of Australians involved in these crimes (Johnson, 2014).
Exposure to family violence
Children and young people are often a hidden population within the family violence literature and discourse. Richards (2011, p. 1) refers to them as ‘silent, forgotten, unintended, invisible and/or secondary victims’. Forcing a child or young person to live in an environment where a primary caregiver experiences sustained violence is in and of itself emotional and psychological abuse (Goddard & Bedi, 2010). Children and young people who are forced to live with violence are at increased risk of experiencing physical and sexual abuse (Dwyer & Miller, 2014; Goddard & Bedi, 2010; Mitchell, 2011). These children and young people tend to experience significant disruptions in their psychosocial wellbeing, often exhibiting a similar pattern of symptoms to other abused or neglected children (Kitzmann, Gaylord, Holt, & Kenny, 2003; Mitchell, 2011).
Family violence commonly occurs with inter-related problems such as drug and alcohol misuse and mental illness. These inter-related problems exacerbate and increase the risks to children in these families (Bromfield, Lamont, Parker, & Horsfall, 2010; Mitchell, 2011).
In all Australian jurisdictions, exposure to family violence is grounds for ‘when a child is in need of protection’ (CFCA, 2016). It is normally dealt with under the category of emotional and psychological abuse. However, in some jurisdictions (e.g. NSW and Tasmania) there is specific mention of family violence as grounds for protection (CFCA, 2016).
Additional forms of child abuse and neglect As well as the five main subtypes of child abuse and neglect, researchers have identified other types, including:
fetal abuse (e.g. unborn babies who are harmed or placed at risk of harm as a result of maternal drug or alcohol use)
exposure to community violence
institutional abuse (i.e. abuse that occurs in institutions such as foster homes, group homes, and religious and sporting groups)
state-sanctioned abuse (e.g. female genital mutilation in parts of Africa, the Stolen Generations in Australia) (Corby, 2006; Miller-Perrin & Perrin, 2007).
The relationships between the different subtypes of child abuse and neglect
The relationships between the different subtypes of child abuse and neglect Although it is useful to distinguish between the different subtypes of child abuse and neglect in order to understand and identify them more thoroughly, it can also be slightly misleading. It is misleading if it creates the impression that there are always strong lines of demarcation between the different abuse subtypes, or that abuse subtypes usually occur in isolation. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest many children who are abused or neglected are subjected to multiple forms of abuse and neglect (Price-Robertson, Rush, Wall, & Higgins, 2013). White, Hindley, & Jones (2015), for example, found that neglect (as opposed to other abuse types) is a particularly strong predictor of all other abuse types. Goddard and Bedi (2010, p. 7) found there were ‘high rates of overlap’ between intimate partner violence and child physical and sexual abuse. Vachon, Krueger, Rogosch, & Cicchetti (2015, p. 1140) found that child sexual abuse is ‘almost always accompanied’ by other types of child abuse and neglect.
Answering the question ‘what is child abuse and neglect?’ is not always a straightforward task. Cultural differences, questions about thresholds (at what point is the child experiencing significant harm?), determining ‘good enough’ parenting, and predicting likelihood of harm all give reason for pause and reflection. In order to make appropriate determinations about whether a child is or is not being abused it is important that professionals in all parts of the service system know the relevant laws and research findings, that they value and practice interdisciplinary work, and that their assessments and decisions are informed by the voices and experiences of children, young people and families.
References Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2018). Child Protection Australia 2016–2017 (Vol. Cat. no. CWS. 63). Canberra: AIHW. Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). (2010). Family violence: A national legal response. Canberra: ALRC. Australian Legal Information Institute. (2018). Crimes Act 1900 – Sect 73, Sexual intercourse with a child between 16 and 18 under special care. Sydney: University of Technology Sydney and University of New South Wales. Retrieved from www5.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/ca190082/s73.html Broadley, K. (2014). Equipping child protection practitioners to intervene to protect children from cumulative harm: Legislation and policy in Victoria, Australia. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 49(3), 265–284. Bromfield, L., & Higgins, D. (2004). The limitations of using statutory child protection data for research into child maltreatment. Australian Social Work, 57(1), 19–30. Bromfield, L. M. (2005). Chronic child maltreatment in an Australian statutory child protection sample (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Deakin University, Geelong. Bromfield, L., Lamont, A., Parker, R., & Horsfall, B. (2010). Issues for the safety and wellbeing of children in families with multiple and complex problems. Family Matters, 88, 76. Broughton, D. D., (2009). Child exploitation in the 21st century. Paediatrics and Child Health, 19, S197–S201. Cameron, G., Sayer, E. M., Thomson, L., Wilson, S., Jones, D. N., & Florek, A. (2015). Child Sexual Exploitation: A study of international comparisons. Virtual Staff College [Online]. Retrieved fromthestaffcollege.uk/wp-content/uploads/CSE_exec_sum_final_publish_1.0.pdf Child Family Community Australia (CFCA). (2016). Australian legal definitions: When is a child in need of protection? (CFCA Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Corby, B. (2006). Child Abuse: Towards a knowledge base (3rd Ed). Berkshire, England: Open University Press. Dwyer, J., & Miller, R. (2014). Working with families where an adult is violent. Melbourne: Department of Human Services. El-Murr, A. (2017). Problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours in Australian children and young people (CFCA Paper No. 46). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/problem-sexual-behaviours-and-sexually-abusive-behaviours-australian-children Fernandez, C. (2016). Sibling Sexual Abuse Series: Part 1. Australian Childhood Foundation Prosody Blog. Retrieved from http://www.childhoodtrauma.org.au/2016/may/sibling-sexual-abuse-1 Garbarino, J., Guttman, E., & Seeley, J. W. (1986). The psychologically battered child: Strategies for identification, assessment, and intervention. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Goddard, C. (1996). Child abuse and child protection: A guide for health, education and welfare workers. South Melbourne: Churchill Livingstone. Goddard, C., & Bedi, G. (2010). Intimate partner violence and child abuse: A child centred perspective. Child Abuse Review, 19, 5–20. Interagency Working Group in Luxembourg. (2016). Terminology guidelines for the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Bangkok, Thailand: ECPAT International Johnson, A. K. (2014). Protecting children’s rights in Asian tourism. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 22(3), 581–617. Kitzmann, K. M., Gaylord, N. K., Holt, A. R., & Kenny, E. D. (2003). Child witnesses to domestic violence: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(2), 339–352. Mathews, B., & Bross, D. C. (2014). Using law to identify and manage child maltreatment. In J. Korbin, & R. Krugman (Eds.). Handbook of child maltreatment (pp. 477–502). Dordrecht, NL: Springer. Miller-Perrin. C. L., & Perrin, R. D., (2007) Child maltreatment: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Mitchell, L. (2011). Domestic violence in Australia: An overview of the issues (Parliamentary Library, Information Analysis Advice). Canberra: Parliament of Australia. Platt, D., & Turney, D. (2014). Making threshold decisions in child protection: A conceptual analysis. British Journal of Social Work, 44(6), 1472–1490. Plum, H. J. (2014). Legal responses to child maltreatment. Child Abuse and Neglect Worldwide, 1, 181–204. Price-Robertson, R., Rush, P., Wall, L., & Higgins, D. (2013). Rarely an isolated incident: Acknowledging the interrelatedness of child maltreatment, victimisation and trauma (CFCA Paper No. 15). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/rarely-isolated-incident-acknowledging-interrelatedness-child-maltrea Quadara, A., Nagy, V., Higgins, D., & Siegel, N. (2015). Conceptualising the prevention of child sexual abuse: Final report (Research Report No. 33). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from aifs.gov.au/publications/conceptualising-prevention-child-sexual-abuse Quayle, E. (2013). Child pornography. In Y. Jewkes, & M. Yar (Eds.), Handbook of Internet Crime (pp. 343–368). New York: Routledge. Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council. (2017). Classification of child exploitation material for sentencing purposes: Final report. Brisbane: Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council. Retrieved from http://www.sentencingcouncil.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/531503/cem-final-report-july-2017.pdf Richards, K. (2011). Children’s exposure to domestic violence in Australia. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, 419. Sheehan, R. (2006). Emotional harm and neglect: The legal response. Child abuse review, 15(1), 38–54. Stathopoulos, M. (2012). Sibling sexual abuse (ACSSA Research Summary). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Tomison, A. M., & Tucci, J. (1997). 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Retrieved from http://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/find-legal-answers/sex-and-law/sexting-and-child-pornography White. O. G., Hindley, N., & Jones, D. P. H. (2015). Risk factors for child maltreatment recurrence: an updated systematic review. Medicine, Science and the Law, 55(4), 259–277. World Health Organization. (2006). Preventing child maltreatment: A guide to taking action and generating evidence. Geneva: WHO. Retrieved from www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/violence/child_maltreatment/en/
1 In Australia children and young people are those under the age of 18 (AIHW, 2018). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child also defines a child as any human under the age of 18 years (United Nations, 1989).
2 In Queensland, consensual anal sex is considered to be an offence when the activity involves any person under the age of 18 years.
3 The use of terms such as child prostitution and child sex tourism imply that the child has given informed consent to the sexual abuse. The terms used in this resource sheet have been chosen because they better reflect the fact that the child is a victim of abuse and exploitation (Interagency Working Group in Luxembourg, 2016).
Authors and Acknowledgements
This paper was updated by Karen Broadley, Senior Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Previous editions have been compiled by Kathryn Goldsworthy, Rhys Price-Robertson, Leah Bromfield and Nick Richardson.
The feature image is by Aurimas(link is external), CC BY-ND 2.0(link is external).
CFCA Resource Sheet Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, September 2018. Last updated September 2018 Creative Commons – Attribution CC BYCopyright information SHARETwitter logoFacebook logoLinkedIn logoemail logo Further reading Understanding child neglect CFCA PAPER— APR 2014 This paper aims to provide a broad overview of child neglect, one of the most common forms of maltreatment.
Responding to children and young people’s disclosures of abuse CFCA PRACTITIONER RESOURCE— MAR 2015 A practical guide for organisations, professionals and any other person responding to children and young people disclosing abuse Responding to children and young people’s disclosures of abuse Reporting child abuse and neglect CFCA RESOURCE SHEET— OCT 2021 Information on how to report suspected child abuse and neglect, including key contacts in each state and territory
Who abuses children? CFCA RESOURCE SHEET— SEP 2014 An overview of the current evidence on who is likely to be a perpetrator of child abuse and neglect Need some help? CFCA offers a free research and information helpdesk for child, family and community welfare practitioners, service providers, researchers and policy makers through the CFCA News. Subscribe(link is external)
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#Neglect / #negligenttreatment is something that should never have happened. Particularly, when used as a “learning tool” for 1st borns. Only when later children are raised ‘better’, by not exposing them do these ‘godly folk’ change their practices: Nothing to see here – move on!
Tags: NRS, RC, SDBC and tagged 1st borns, baptist, BBC, boys brigade, child sexual abuse, Church, church family, ecosystem, first borns, girls brigade, habitus, history, neglect, patterns, RC, redress, royal commission, SDBC, support, youth group
As I have been speaking with a close support-team, I’m starting to sketch out what I’d expect for both BBC/PMSA + Qld Baptist Church/QB to say (“a direct personal response”). As my car accident had been linked with these memories, I’ll be requesting ’under special circumstances’ recordings to be made. I’ll keep you informed …
Finding the right Counsellor may take time, yet when you do it can make needed impact. As I had attended BBC under an OCA award, there may be inclusion of this. Perhaps a seperate ’Apology’ will be needed…
Guys – an online support group that SAMSN are running, in case you are interested. I got info on it through an email from another Counsellor (BlueKnot)! Absolutely no pressure to join, It’s just in case it’s something you’re interested in… (6pm-8pm may be Daylight Savings time, which we’ll check on before then)
Mon 21st Feb is in just over 1 & 1/2 wks away. This should be a wonderful chance for you guys! You’re definitely not alone.
By Donna FieldPosted Tue 10 Nov 2015 at 2:27pmTuesday 10 Nov 2015 at 2:27pm, updated Tue 10 Nov 2015 at 5:11pmTuesday 10 Nov 2015 at 5:11pm
A convicted paedophile teacher has accused students of making up stories about him after he was convicted of a child sex offence.
– Convicted paedophile teacher Gregory Knight claims students made up stories
– In 1994, Knight was convicted of child sex offences in NT
– He taught music at Brisbane’s St Paul’s in the 1980s, 1990s
– He was convicted of sexually abusing a St Paul’s student
The conduct of former music teacher Gregory Robert Knight, as well as that of former counsellor Kevin John Lynch, is under scrutiny at the child sexual abuse royal commission underway at the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Both men worked at Brisbane’s St Paul’s School during the 1980s and 1990s.
Knight later resigned from St Paul’s and moved to the Northern Territory to work at Darwin’s Dripstone High School, where serious allegations of child abuse were made against him in 1993.
The school and the NT Department of Education refused Knight’s offer to resign, with the school sacking him on the spot.
In 1994, Knight was convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail with a three-year non-parole period for child sex offences in the Northern Territory.
In 2005, he was subsequently convicted of sexually abusing a former St Paul’s student, identified at the inquiry as BSG.
He appeared this afternoon at the commission via video link.
“Now in Darwin as I have stated I went off the rails, I behaved badly and I’m not dodging around that one bit,” Knight said.
“It was after that and at the time when compensation was being handed out to students who had been at St Paul’s well after I’d left there that we had BSG come along and start asking ‘Oh, can I put in a bit of a story’ and away it went.”
BSG’s lawyer, Roger Singh, challenged Knight’s statement.
You are a disgrace. It cannot be denied that you are a paedophile.
“You were charged, convicted and sentenced for horrific sexual violation against BSG,” he said.
“There was no successful appeal, and for you to proclaim your innocence is absurd and delusional.
“You are a disgrace. It cannot be denied that you are a paedophile.”
Counsel assisting the inquiry David Lloyd also reminded Knight of his paedophile conviction and suggested: “It’s just delusional isn’t it, your position?”
Knight replied: “No, it isn’t.”
Knight sacked by BBC before being being employed by St Paul’s
Former Brisbane Boys College (BBC) principal Graeme Thomson told the inquiry he sacked Knight after hearing reports of questionable conduct from students in 1980.
Mr Thomson employed Knight unaware of crimes he had committed in South Australia, but said when boys from BBC came to him about strange behaviour around boarders in the showers, he took action.
I took cognisance and gave pre-eminence to two well-known truths, where’s there’s smoke there’s fire and prevention is better than cure.
He said he subsequently told St Paul’s principal Gilbert Case about the behaviour, yet Knight was still employed by the school.
“He [Knight] made no effort to offer an explanation and did not refute the details,” Mr Thomson said.
“I was confounded by his inability or his unwillingness to make a comment [about the allegations].
“When Knight did not respond with any denial, I took cognisance and gave pre-eminence to two well-known truths, where there’s smoke there’s fire and prevention is better than cure.”
Mr Thomson said he then registered his concern with BBC’s governing body and they agreed Knight had to go.
“I told Knight that his position was summarily terminated and I instructed him to make sure he left the school in the next 24 hours,” Mr Thomson said.
Former SA education minister ‘could have done more’