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What is Abuse?


Useful links

HM Government March 2015 (click on the link)

What to do if you're worried a child is being abused - Advice for practitioners

It takes many forms, signs to look out for:

Physical Abuse
This is when children are hurt or injured by others, for example by hitting, shaking squeezing or biting.

Some things to look for are:

  • Unexplained injuries, bruises or marks
  • Injuries which have unusual fractures or in an unusual place on the body.
  • Fear, watchfulness, over anxiety to please
  • Small, round burns or bite marks
  • Frequent absences from school

Sexual Abuse
This is when others use children to meet their own sexual needs. This might include sexual activity involving the child or showing the children pornographic material on videos or the internet.

Some things to look for are:

  • Sexual knowledge or comments which are not what you would expect from a child
  • Sexual behaviour which is not what you would expect from a child
  • Unexpected reactions of fear or wariness to people
  • Repeated urinary or genital infections
  • Pregnancy/sexually transmitted diseases 
  • Self harming or recurrent abdominal pains

Emotional Abuse
This is when children are persistently denied love and affection. Children will suffer if they are always shouted at, made to feel stupid, rejected, used as scapegoats or live in a violent environment.

Some things to look for are:

  • Withdrawn, anxious behaviour, lack of self-confidence
  • Self-harm and eating disorders
  • Demanding or attention-seeking behaviour
  • Unwillingness to communicate
  • Repetitive, nervous behaviour such as rocking, hair twisting or scratching

This is where no one meets the children’s basic needs for food, warmth, protection. This includes educational neglect, lack of supervision and not addressing health care needs.

Some things to look for are:

  • The child’s clothes are often dirty, scruffy, or unsuitable for the weather
  • No one seeks medical help when child is ill or hurt
  • The child is smelly, unclean hair, nails dirty
  • Dental issues (bad breadth)
  • The child is left alone or with unsuitable carers
  • The child is thin, pale, lacking in energy
  • Lots of accidents happen to the child
  • The child is exposed to risks or dangers, such as dangers in the home or drugs or needles being left around


NICE guidelines aim to improve how children at risk of abuse or neglect are helped and supported (click on the link)

The NSPCC have produced information relating to emotional neglect and emotional abuse, click on the links below to view the documents:

Helpline highlight: More people contacting the NSPCC with concerns about neglected children

A Neglect resource pack is available from both the Action for Children website.

What is Witchcraft Abuse - (Click on the link)

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