Whakangongo me whakamaniorotanga a te tamaiti Child abuse and neglect

Every tamaiti (child) deserves to feel safe and have their needs met. Abuse and neglect need to be treated seriously. The effects can be very harmful and may last a lifetime. Most abuse happens within the family home but it can happen anywhere, including school, in the community or online.

Reporting child abuse and neglect

If you or a tamaiti (child) are in immediate danger, phone the police on 111 at any time, day or night.

If you believe a tamaiti is being abused or neglected, phone Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children on 0508 326 459. This phone number is staffed 24 hours, every day by social workers.

If you or your tamariki (children) are affected by family violence, call the Family Violence Information Line on 0800 456 450. It is available 24 hours a day, every day.

Types of abuse

The signs of tamaiti abuse are not always obvious, and abuse frequently goes undetected and unreported. 

Tamaiti abuse can be sexual, physical or emotional. It can also be neglect.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse can be sexual contact. But it can also be exposing a child to sexual situations or pornography, whether or not touching is involved.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse involves deliberate physical harm or injury to the child.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can include:

  • constant belittling, shaming and humiliating
  • calling names and making negative comparisons to others
  • telling a tamaiti they are no good, worthless, bad or a mistake
  • limiting physical contact with a tamaiti — no hugs, kisses or other signs of affection.


Neglect may include:

  • not taking a tamaiti to the doctor when they are unwell
  • lack of supervision of a tamaiti by an adult
  • not giving a tamaiti proper food or clothing.

A tamaiti can experience more than one form of abuse at a time.

Preventing child abuse and neglect

It is crucial that everyone keeps an eye out for the tamariki in our community.

We all have a responsibility to speak up if we are worried about a tamaiti or concerned they are not safe or not being properly cared for.

If a tamaiti or rangatahi (young person) tells you they are being abused, tell them you believe them and you will make sure they get help. It is important that the tamaiti knows it is not their fault.

If you are worried that a tamaiti is being abused or neglected, call Oranga Tamariki — Ministry for Children on 0508 326 459

You do not have to tell them who you are if you do not want to.

Concern you may hurt a child

If you have hurt a tamaiti or are worried you might, it is important to seek help. You can learn ways to manage your anger without hurting others.

The first step for staying in control includes making sure your tamaiti is in a safe place. Then move away from them, slowing your breathing with long deep breaths and slowly counting to 10.

You can call the Family Violence Information Line on 0800 456 450 to find out about the organisations in your area that can help.

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)