What is abuse?
The following may help you decide whether a child's welfare is at risk of abuse, harm or neglect.
Signs which may suggest physical abuse:
- Any bruising to a baby - pre-walking stage
- Multiple bruising to different parts of the body
- Bruising of different colours indicating repeated injuries
- Fingertip bruising to the chest, back, arms or legs
- Burns of any shape or size
- An injury for which there is no adequate explanation
- A child tells you about it
Signs of possible sexual abuse:
- Something a child has told you
- Something a child has told someone else
- A child who shows worrying sexualised behaviour in their play or with other children
- A child who seems to have inappropriate sexual knowledge for their age
- A child who may be visiting or being looked after by a known or suspected sexual offender
Signs which may suggest emotional harm:
The following signs may be present in children whose parents are over-critical and emotionally distant, or who are unable to meet their child's emotional needs:
- Children whose behaviour is excessive. For example, excessive bedwetting, overeating, rocking, head banging.
- Children who self harm. For example, they may cut or scratch themselves or overdose.
- Children who attempt suicide
- Children who persistently run away from home
- Children who show high levels of anxiety, unhappiness or withdrawal
- Children who usually seek out or avoid affection.
Signs which may suggest neglect:
- Squalid, unhygienic or dangerous home conditions
- Parents who fail to attend to their children's health or development needs
- Children who appear persistently undersized or underweight
- Children who continually appear tired or lacking in energy
- Children who suffer frequent injuries due to lack of supervision