The latest government statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013, identifies four main categories of child abuse; Physical abuse, Emotional abuse, Sexual abuse and Neglect.
The guidance gives the following definition for the generic meaning of child abuse:
“A form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.”
Definitions of the four categories of abuse are also given within the guidance, which can be accessed here.