Signs and Symptoms

Child Abuse, also referred to as Significant Harm, takes many forms. This summarises the different forms of abuse but is not comprehensive, see Additional Advice below:

Types of abuse

Physical abuse

Examples of what to look out for

  • Unexplained injuries, bruises or marks
  • Fear, watchfulness, over anxiety to please
  • Small, round burns or bite marks
  • Frequent absences from school

Sexual abuse

Examples of what to look out for

  • Comments about sexual activity
  • Sexual knowledge or comments which are not what you would expect from a child
  • Sexual behaviour which is not what you would expect from a child
  • Unexpected reactions of fear or wariness to people
  • Repeated urinary or genital infections
  • Pregnancy/sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unexplained gifts or money

Emotional abuse

Examples of what to look out for

  • Withdrawn, anxious behaviour, lack of self-confidence
  • Self-harm and eating disorders
  • Demanding or attention-seeking behaviour
  • Unwillingness to communicate
  • Repetitive, nervous behaviour such as rocking, hair twisting or scratching

Neglect

Examples of what to look out for

  • The child’s clothes are often dirty, scruffy or unsuitable for the weather.
  • No one seeks medical help when child is ill or hurt
  • The child is smelly and dirty
  • The child is left alone or with unsuitable carers
  • The child is thin, pale, lacking in energy
  • Lots of accidents happen to the child
  • The child is exposed to risks or dangers, such as dangers in the home or drugs or needles being left around