Everyone is obliged to report to child protection services if they have a reason to assume that a child is being abused or disrespected in some way.

Child Protection Act 16, article b.

Child abuse

Abuse is manifested in different ways. It can be physical, mental or sexual. Spanking children is considered violence in Iceland and is prohibited. It is also child abuse when the life and health of an unborn child is put at risk.

The consequences of abuse can be serious and last far into adulthood. Consequences can be low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, increased risk of long term diseases, suicidal thought and alcohol- and drug abuse.

Even though domestic violence is not aimed at the child itself, it has a serious effect on the health and development of the child. Children can also abuse other children.

Child protection services in each municipality help children who exist in unacceptable living conditions and provide support for families.

Ending a marriage because of abuse

If you are a citizen of a country of Africa, North or South America, Asia, Australia and Oceania or a European country outside of EEA/EFTA and end your marriage or cohabitation due to you or your child having suffered abuse or violence from your partner, the Act on Foreigners allows for an exception to extend a family reunification permit.

In order for you to demonstrate that the violence took place, it is very important to contact the police, the emergency ward or a doctor, since all incidents are registered. It is also possible to call in witnesses and important to retain all evidence relevant to the case, for example emails or text messages containing threats.

Read more about child custody

Effects of abuse on children

Violence has a serious and long-term effect on children. - English subtitles auto-generated

Contact 112 immediately if you suspect a child being abused.

Emotional abuse

It is often difficult to recognize mental or emotional abuse, but it can have profoundly serious consequences, even worse than physical abuse. It is mental abuse when parents or other caregivers show a child a persistent negative attitude and negative feelings. It is mental abuse when a child witnesses violence between its parents.

Examples of mental abuse:

  • Attitude or behaviour which says that the child is worthless, nobody loves it or nobody wants to have anything to do with it.
  • Complete inaction, such as not showing the child any emotion.
  • When the child is insulted, called names or treated in an inhuman or humiliating way.


Sóley is a 13 year old girl who grew up in a violent home. She has now moved to a different home with her mother and brother where they live a new life in safety.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse leads to harm to the child or is likely to do so. The abuse can be visible, for example bruises, scratches, burns or bone fractures but sometimes it is not.

Examples of physical abuse:

  • A child is slapped, shaken, thrown around, burned or tied up.
  • A child is purposely given dangerous medication or something else that can harm it.
  • A child is denied necessary medication.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves sexual activity, words or pictures exposed to a child. Sexual abuse can take place between an adult individual and a child or between two children where one individual has power over the other.

Examples of sexual abuse:

  • A child is forced to watch porn.
  • Sexual photographs are taken of a child.
  • A child’s genitals are touched or a child is forced to touch someone’s genitals.
  • Sexual photographs, words or conversations online.
  • Sexual intercourse with a child.
If you see something, do something

Do you recognize abuse?

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After Fjóla’s child’s father suddenly left her and their 3 years old girl, Ásdís, she increasingly turned to alcohol. The more Fjóla drinks, the more frequently she becomes angry with Ásdís who looks very much like her father. Fjóla has often snapped at Ásdís by telling her that it is her fault that her father left them or tells her to go to her room because she cannot stand the sight of her.

Fjóla’s neighbor lady often babysits Ásdís but one time when Fjóla does not pick up her daughter until the next morning the neighbor lady doesn’t exactly know what to do.

Is this abuse?

Child Protection Services

Child protection service committees in each municipality help children who exist in unacceptable living conditions and provide support for families.

Þrjár dökkhærðar stelpur sitja á grasi. Þær snúa baki í myndavélina og spjalla saman.

Save the Children

Save the Children (Barnaheill) offers consultation about the welfare of children. On their website, it is possible to report inappropriate online behaviour against children.

Communication counsellor

A communication counsellor is here to listen, support, and assist you in all cases related to inappropriate behaviour or abuse within organized sports or youth activities.

Talk to your children about safe online communication

Online communication can be tricky and it is important to teach children ways to prevent digital abuse and teach them ways to deal with it if it happens.


Neglect can be both emotional and physical. It is neglect when a child does not receive the care and accommodation that is necessary and can damage its development.

Manneskja situr í hjólastól. Hún snýr frá okkur og horfir upp í vindinn. Mikið og liðað hár sveiflast í vindinum.