Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any act or acts which results in inflicted injury or death to a child or young person. Associated signs include but are not restricted to: bruises and welts, cuts and abrasions, fractures or sprains, abdominal or head injury or injury to internal organs, strangulation or suffocation, poisoning, burns and any repeated injury for which explanation is inadequate or inconsistent. The acts must be intentional and not accidental.

Source: Child Protection Register: The Children’s Act does not use the term ‘physical abuse’ in (Dawes et al., 2016: 94)


• 34.4% of adolescents reported having been hit, beaten, kicked or physically hurt by an adult who was supposed to be taking care of them over their lifetime (Optimus Study).

Reported violent crime against children 2018-2019 reporting year:

  • Murder: 1014
  • Attempted Murder: 1184
  • Assault: 18644

Source:  SAPS Crime stats 2018/2019

Corporal Punishment

The use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain but not injury, for the purposes of correction or control of the child’s behaviour.

Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry definition[43]. No definition is available in South African legislation.


• 57% of parents report using corporal punishment; 60% confirm beating with a belt or stick. Children under five are more vulnerable than any other age group.

• 23.8% of adolescents experience corporal punishment at home.

Source: (Dawes et al., 2016: 94)