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Signs of Child Abuse

Child abuse happens when someone ( adult or child ) – harms a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can also involve a lack of love, care or attention. Neglect and Emotional Abuse can be just as damaging as Physical and Sexual Abuse, so it is important to watch and be aware of the signs of abuse. The child may be suffering from more than one abuse so the following is just a guideline. If you notice distinct changes in a child’s behaviour make sure you take note to see if any of the following are relevant.

These are indicators of abuse and neglect that you may see in children. If you see any of these indicators or if a child reveals information to you:

1. Remain calm and do not force the child to give information.

2. Comfort the child and thank them for sharing with you then notify your relevant Child Protection Services.

3. Remember a child may only disclose a small portion of information at a time until they see your reaction is calm and supportive.

The following are some signs of abuse.

Signs of physical abuse
Child’s appearance
* Unusual bruises, welts, burns or fractures
* Bite marks
* Frequent injuries always explained as accidental
* If an explanation does not match the injury
* Wears long sleeves or other concealing clothing to hide injuries

Child’s behaviour
* Unpleasant, hard to get along with
* Unusually shy, avoids other people
* May be too anxious to please
* Appears to be afraid of parents
* Shows little or no distress at being separated from parents


Signs of neglect
Child’s appearance
* Poor hygiene, dirty hair, body odour
* Clothes inappropriate for the weather
* In need of medical or dental care

Child’s behaviour
* Often tired, no energy, lethargic
* Begs or steals food
* Frequent lateness or absence from school
* Defiant behaviour
* Low self esteem

Signs of emotional abuse
Child’s appearance
Signs may be less obvious than in other forms of abuse, behaviour is probably the best indication.
* Withdrawal from friends and social activities
* Frequent lateness or absence from school
* Loss of self esteem
* Defiant behaviour
* Changes in school performance

Signs of sexual abuse
Child’s appearance
* Torn stained or bloody underclothing
* Experiences pain or itching in genital areas
* Has a sexually transmitted infection

Child’s behaviour
* Sexual behaviour or knowledge that is inappropriate for the child’s age group. *Inappropriate sexual touching of other children
*Abrupt change in behaviour

*Extreme reluctance to be touched in any way

If you suspect Child Abuse, call your relevant Child Protection Services and get advice.
They will listen to your concerns and take action on your behalf if a child is in danger.


Let’s keep children safe !!

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