Every child deserves to have a safe upbringing that is free from abuse and neglect. However, it is a sad truth that many people endure child abuse, with the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimating that one in five adults aged 18 to 74 years experienced at least one form of child abuse before they reached the age of 16. For this reason, it is essential that anyone who works with children understands the signs of child abuse, and knows what to do when they see someone exhibiting these signs.
In this article, we will explore some of the main signs and discuss the potential impact that abuse and neglect can have on a child.
It is important to note that the information provided in this article is not exhaustive, and that you should always report anything you think could indicate that a child is being mistreated, even if it is not explicitly mentioned here.
There are several indicators that a child is experiencing abuse. For example, you may notice a mark or sudden change in the child's behaviour, or see that the child's parents or caregivers are acting inappropriately towards them. In some cases, a vulnerable child themselves may confide in you about the abuse that they are experiencing.
Before looking at some of the signs in detail, it is important to remember:
Some of the main signs of abuse include:
There are several development stages that children go through, and most of them meet these developmental milestones at roughly the same age. These stages are as follows:
Abuse can have a detrimental impact on a child’s development and cause them to miss some of these milestones, or reach them significantly later than expected. For example, a neglected or abused child may have difficulties forming relationships with other children or adults.
Also, while it is hard to make direct links between experiences of child abuse and problems in later life, it has been seen to cause several issues in adults such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
At Commodious, we offer several safeguarding training courses designed for those who work with, or around, children. They explore safeguarding legislation and guidance, and explain how to recognise, respond, report and record abuse. To find out more, use the links below: