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What is Abuse?


What is Abuse?

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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

PANTS information for partner agency websites

Together for Childhood is an innovative new partnership bringing the communities in Chell Heath and Fegg Hayes, along with groups and organisations across Stoke-on-Trent, together to prevent child sexual abuse

As part of this, partners involved in Together for Childhood are now launching the PANTS campaign in Chell Heath and Fegg Hayes.

This campaign, involving all Together for Childhood partners, launches on January 28 with an event at Fegg Hayes Hub for local professionals. The primary aim is to encourage parents, carers and adults working with children to have conversations with children in an age-appropriate way about how to stay safe from sexual abuse.

We’d really appreciate you sharing the PANTS messages with families you come into contact with, either professionally or personally. All the materials are available to download, free of charge, from the NSPCC website:

If you would like to know more about the campaign, would like hard copy resources or to request a PANTS information session or workshop for your organisation, please contact:

Ally Sultana, NSPCC Local Campaigns Manager    Tel: 01212277553


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


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