Recognising Abuse

Physical Abuse

Any non-accidental injury to a child, including shaking and excessive discipline.

Child Indicators

  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Premature loss of teeth
  • Verbally reports abuse
  • Wary of adult contacts
  • Consistent anger, aggression, hyperactivity
  • Behavioural extremes
  • Role reversal
  • Developmental lags
  • Appears frightened of carer
  • Apprehensive when other children cry
  • Wears clothes to cover injuries
  • Seeks affection from any adult
  • Non-expression of his/her needs
  • Non-communicative

Carer Indicators

  • Seems unconcerned about child
  • Seems anxious and overwhelmed by their child’s needs
  • Takes a long time to get medical care for child
  • Gives inadequate explanation for the child’s injury
  • Takes child to a different doctor for each injury
  • Substance abuser
  • Disciplines the child too harshly
  • Describes child in a consistently negative manner
  • Has poor impulse control

Sexual Abuse

When someone involves a child in a sexual activity by using their power over them or taking advantage of their trust.

Child Indicators

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia
  • Venereal disease (especially in pre-teens)
  • Pregnancy
  • Foreign matter in bladder, rectum or urethra
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Aggressive, overt sexual behaviour
  • Drawing pictures of people with genitals
  • Cruelty to animals without physiological basis
  • Pre-mature knowledge of explicit sexual acts
  • Sleep disorders
  • Taking frequent baths
  • Starting fires
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Wary of physical contact, especially with an adult

Carer Indicators

  • Very protective or jealous of child
  • Extremely protective of family privacy
  • Encourages child to engage in prostitution
  • Substance abuser
  • Is geographically isolated
  • Lacks social/emotional contacts outside the family
  • Has low self-esteem

Neglect

The chronic failure to provide a child with the basic necessities for his or her proper growth and development.

Child Indicators

  • Consistent hunger & poor hygiene
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Chronically unclean
  • Consistent lack of supervision
  • Unattended physical / medical/dental needs
  • Often tired or listless
  • Abandonment
  • Underweight
  • Developmental lags
  • Bald spots on an infant’s head
  • Begging or stealing food
  • Extended stays in school
  • Early arrival/late departures at school
  • Attendance at school infrequent
  • Substance abuser
  • States there is no parent or carer

Carer Indicators

  • Has diagnosed chaotic, upsetting home life
  • Is apathetic, feels nothing will change
  • Is isolated from friends, relatives, neighbours
  • Cannot be found
  • Expects too much of a child
  • Substance Abuser
  • Exposes child to unsafe living conditions

Emotional Abuse

Behaviour that destroys the confidence of a child resulting in emotional deprivation or trauma, including exposure to domestic violence, intimidation and withholding affection.

Child Indicators

  • Speech disorders
  • Lags in physical development
  • Failure to thrive
  • Attempted suicide
  • Habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking etc)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty forming positive relationships
  • Elimination problems
  • Inability to trust
  • Neurotic Traits
  • Behavioural extremes
  • Overly adaptive behaviour
  • Apathetic
  • Withdrawal
  • Reports emotional maltreatment

Carer Indicators

  • Treat children in family unequally
  • Does not appear to care much about the child’s problems
  • Blames or belittles the child
  • Is cold and rejecting
  • Withholds love
  • Finds nothing good or attractive in the child