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What signs may indicate child abuse?

Children who have been abused rarely tell, but there are signs that may cause you to worry about a child. The child may have unexplained bruising, or bruising in unusual places, they may seem afraid, quiet or withdrawn, be afraid to go home, or seem hungry, tired or unkempt. You may be concerned if a child is left alone or unsupervised, has too much responsibility for their age, is acting in a sexually inappropriate way or is misusing drugs or alcohol.

You may also see an adult act in a way that makes you worry about any children they care for. For example, an adult may be acting violently or sexually towards a child or someone else, misusing drugs or alcohol when the child is in their care or be verbally abusive towards a child.

Children and young people that are the victims of exploitation and harm caused by someone out with their family, often do not recognise that they are being exploited. However, there are a number of signs that a child may be being at risk. These include:

  • missing for periods of time or returning home late regularly
  • missing school or not taking part in education
  • having unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • changes in emotional wellbeing
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • inappropriate sexualised behaviour.

Children who have been abused rarely tell, but there are signs which may make you worry about a child. The child may have unexplained bruising, or bruising in unusual places, they may seem afraid, quiet or withdrawn, be afraid to go home, or seem hungry, tired or unkempt. You may be concerned if a child is left alone or unsupervised, has too much responsibility for their age, is acting in a sexually inappropriate way or is misusing drugs or alcohol.

You may also see an adult act in a way that makes you worry about any children they care for. For example, an adult may be acting violently or sexually towards a child or someone else, misusing drugs or alcohol when the child is in their care or be verbally abusive towards a child.

Children and young people that are the victims of exploitation and harm caused by someone out with their family, often do not recognise that they are being exploited. However, there are a number of tell-tale signs that a child may be being groomed. These include:

  • missing for periods of time or returning home late regularly
  • missing school or not taking part in education
  • having unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • changes in emotional wellbeing
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • inappropriate sexualised behaviour.

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