Different types of child abuse in Portugal

The most common forms of child abuse in Portugal arephysical punishment, such as being slapped and shaken, being exposed to parents arguing and witnessing violent images in the media.

Child abuse specialist Teresa Magalhães, talking to Lusa news agency, warned that hitting children can be harmful to their normal development, possibly resulting in psychological damage, low self-esteem, academic under-performance, deviant behaviour and drug abuse.

She added that in the case of young children, such as babies under three years of age, shaking may even result in death.

Another violent form of child abuse takes place when the parents argue in front of the children. This may lead to chronic trauma and children growing into adults with anger issues.

Magalhães said that exposure to violence in the media is perhaps the most frequent cause of child abuse, mainly through cartoons, movies or news broadcasts. But this often goes undetected by the parents. The specialist believes this could lead to children growing into “violent adults”. She concluded: “When we carry out surveys on young people concerning violence, it’s frightening to come to the conclusion that they see violence as a trivial thing and perceive violent behaviour as something normal.”