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Recognise the Signs

It is not always easy to recognise that a child is being hurt or is at risk, so abuse is often undetected. There are indicators (signs, symptoms or clues) that when found, either on their own or in various combinations, can point to possible abuse, neglect or family violence.

Indicators can be:

  • Physical – such as bruises or burns and relate to a child’s physical condition.
  • Behavioural – such as a child cringing or flinching if touched unexpectedly; or a caregiver constantly calling a child ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’. Behavioural indicators can be displayed by a child or by the alleged abuser.

Indicators do not necessarily prove that a child has been harmed. They alert us that abuse may have occurred and that a child may require help or protection. Sometimes indicators can result from life events that do not involve abuse, such as divorce, accidental injury, the arrival of a new sibling etc.

To learn more about indicators specific to each type of abuse click on the relevant link below

Indicators of Emotional Abuse
Indicators of Neglect
Indicators of Physical Abuse
Indicators of Sexual Abuse

'How Can I Tell?' offers more detailed information on all types of child abuse.