It is important to realize that the presence of any one indicator does not mean that a child has been abused. In most instances, abused children will exhibit a number of behavioural and physical indicators.
It is not your responsibility to determine if a child is being abused; however, if you suspect or know a child is being abused it is your duty to report it.
Signs include but are not limited to:
- pale, listless, unkempt appearance;
- frequent absences from school;
- inappropriate clothing for the weather;
- involvement in delinquent acts and/or the abuse of alcohol or drugs;
- frequently doesn't bring a lunch;
- poor hygiene;
- unattended physical problems or medical needs;
- consistent lack of supervision.
Signs may include but are not limited to:
- severe depression;
- extreme withdrawal or aggressiveness;
- overly compliant, too well-mannered, too neat or clean;
- extreme attention seeking behaviour;
- extreme inhibition in play;
- bed wetting that has no medical cause;
- frequent psychosomatic complaints such as headaches, nausea, abdominal pains;
- failure to thrive or succeed.
Injuries may include: bruises, welts, cuts, fractures, burns or internal injuries. Physical abuse can be one or two isolated incidents or can occur repeatedly over a prolonged period of time.
Indicators may include:
- lack of explanation for injuries;
- wariness of adults;
- cringing/flinching when touched;
- infants may display a vacant stare;
- extreme aggression or withdrawal;
- indiscriminate affection seeking;
- extreme compliance/eagerness to please;
- presence of various injuries in various stages of healing;
- various injuries over a period of time;
- injuries inconsistent with the child's age.
Signs and indicators may include but are not limited to:
- age-inappropriate play of a sexual nature with toys, self or others;
- age-inappropriate sexually explicit drawing and/or descriptions;
- bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge;
- seductive behaviour;
- unusual or excessive itching in the genital or anal area;
- torn, stained or bloody underwear,
- injuries to the genital or anal areas, such as bruising, swelling or infection;
- venereal disease.