Everyone is mandated to report to child protection services if they have a reason to assume that a child is being abused or otherwise disrespected.

Child Protection Act 16, Article B.

Child abuse

Abuse is manifested in many different ways. It can be physical, mental, sexual. 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. Examples of consequences are 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 an effect on the health and development of the child.

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

Contact 112 immediately if you know of a child being abused.

Emotional abuse

It is often difficult to discern 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 bad names or treated in an inhuman or humiliating way.
Sóley is a 13 year old girl who grew up with violence. 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 visible.

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 pornography.
  • Photographs are taken of the child for the purpose of sexual stimulation.
  • A child’s genitals are touched or a child is forced to touch someone’s genitals.
  • Sexual photographs, words or conversations on social media.
  • 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 three 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 doesn’t pick up her daughter until the next morning the neighbor lady doesn’t exactly know what to do.

Is this abuse?

Call 112 in the case of suspicion or knowledge of a child being abused.

Available resources

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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.


The police in Iceland help people who have suffered abuse of any kind. Police see abuse in close relationships as a very serious matter.

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 doesn’t 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.