How to Spot the Signs of Child Abuse - MissLJBeauty

How to Spot the Signs of Child Abuse

Children who are victims of abuse may not be able to tell anyone what is happening to them and may not even realise that it is abuse. It is the responsibility of the adults around the child to notice any differences in the child’s behaviour and be able to recognise the signs of child abuse. Here are some of the signs of several different types of child abuse to be aware of.

How to Spot Signs of Child Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is causing physical harm to a child through violent means. It is aggressive behaviour towards a child resulting in non-accidental injuries. Signs of physical abuse are:

Bruises or swelling
Burns or scarring
Fractures/broken bones
Bite marks or welts
Unexplained injuries
Injury marks with patterns (e.g. belt or hand)
Untreated dental or medical issues
Avoiding physical contact
Withdrawing from activities
Fear of going home
Always on high alert
Wearing unsuitable clothing to cover injuries

If an adult hits, kicks, bites, or burns a child, then this is considered physical abuse. It is also abuse for an adult to tie a child up, throw objects at a child, or pick them up and shake them.

How to Spot Signs of Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual exploitation is when a child is manipulated or forced into participating in sexual activities. It can happen online and is not always physical. Signs of child sexual abuse are:

Promiscuity at a young age
Use of inappropriate sexual language
Inappropriate sexual behaviour
Unexpected sexual knowledge
Avoiding being alone with specific people
Appearing afraid of a specific person
Refusing to change clothes in front of other people
Anal or vaginal soreness
Unusual discharge
Blood in the child’s underwear
Bruising or bleeding around genitals
Pain or itching around genitals
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Running away from home

It is considered child abuse to engage with a child sexually either verbally, physically, or through written messages. This includes showing child pornography or telling dirty jokes.

How to Spot Signs of Child Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse, or psychological abuse, is the consistent neglect of a child’s emotional needs or emotional maltreatment through manipulation or verbal abuse. Signs of this are:

Younger children acting clingy
Being overly affectionate towards strangers
Low self-esteem or lack of confidence
Seeming anxious or depressed
Struggling to control their emotions
Lacking social skills and friendships
Seeming isolated from or negative towards caregivers
Aggression or cruelty towards children or animals
Withdrawal from activities or loss of enthusiasm
Decrease in performance at school
Avoidance of particular situations
Delayed developmental skills or loss of skills
Speech problems or delays
Behavioural extremes (obedience or disobedience)

Being emotionally abusive towards a child involves ignoring the child’s needs for emotional support and guidance, failing to show affection and often criticizing or threatening the child.

How to Spot Signs of Child Neglect
Neglect is the failure to meet the child’s basic needs. It is the most common form of child abuse and includes not being protected from physical or emotional harm. Signs of this are:

Appearing to be hungry
Not having lunch or money at school
Failing to attend school
Not meeting milestones developmentally
Poor hygiene (seeming noticeably dirty or smelly)
Not having adequate clothes or shoes
Having a swollen tummy or thin tummy
Being tired or anaemic
Rashes, sores, fleas, or ringworm
Poor communication skills
Lack of supervision
Living in an unsuitable environment
Medical or dental problems without appropriate treatment or follow-up care

It is the duty of a caregiver to ensure that all of a child’s emotional, physical, medical, and educational needs are met. Failure to meet any of these needs is considered to be neglect.

How to Report Child Abuse
You may notice any of the signs of child abuse listed above, or you may recognise abusive behaviours towards a child coming from an adult, such as lack of concern, harsh physical discipline, or unreasonable demands. If you suspect that a child is being abused, then you should contact the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for advice on how to report child abuse and support the child. If a child has previously been abused, they could be entitled to claim child abuse compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. The child can claim up to their 20th birthday, or an adult guardian can claim on the child’s behalf if they are still under 18 years old. This financial compensation can support the child’s recovery by helping with living costs or treatment such as counselling or medical care.

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