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How to Identify Abuse & Neglect

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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  • Low self-esteem, being withdrawn or having difficulty relating to adults or other children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:

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  • 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)
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  • 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

Acknowledgement of Country

Act for Kids pays its respects to the traditional custodians across the lands in which we work, and acknowledge their elders past, present and future.