How to Identify Abuse & Neglect


How to Identify Abuse & Neglect

Sometimes it can be difficult to know if your instincts about child abuse and neglect are right. There are often behavioural or physical signs of stress when a child has been, or is experiencing abuse.

Some signs of abuse include:

  • Distrust or wariness of adults
  • Extreme behaviour aggressive, submissive, anxious, distressed
  • Low self-esteem, being withdrawn or having difficulty relating to adults or other children
  • Being overly obedient and trying hard to please
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive rocking, humming, sucking or biting
  • Bedwetting, frequent nightmares or sleeping difficulties (seeming tired and falling asleep at unusual times)
  • Seeming to be accident prone or having unexplained bruises or injuries at different stages of healing
  • Explanations for injuries that are unbelievable, vague or don’t align with the type of injury
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Not wanting to go home (or somewhere else)
  • Creating stories or artwork about abuse
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviour for the age and development of the child

Indicators of neglect include:

  • Malnutrition, frequent hunger and stealing or hoarding food
  • Poor hygiene (body odour, dirty skin or uncombed hair)
  • Frequent absence or being late to school
  • Inappropriate clothing (particularly in winter)
  • Comments that nobody is at home or that they do things by themselves
  • Being left unsupervised for long periods of time
  • Frequent illness, sores without bandaids or that don’t seem to heal, severe nappy rash, medical problems that don’t seem to be addressed
  • Young children not meeting developmental milestones when there is no underlying medical issue