The table below outlines the four main categories of abuse as defined by the Department of Health ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ document 2010. (Full definitions can be found in this document)

Staff should be aware that the possible indicators are not definitive and that some children may present these behaviours for reasons other than abuse.

Types of Abuse:Possible Indicators:
Neglect The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairments of the child’s health or development.  Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide food, clothing and shelter; protect a child from physical  and emotional harm or danger;  ensure adequate supervision; ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.  Poor appearance and hygiene- Problems with personal hygienebe smelly or dirtyhave unwashed clotheshave inadequate clothing, e.g. not having a winter coatseem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch moneyhave frequent and untreated nappy rash in infants.Emaciation (thin and/or weak)   Health and development problems- untreated injuries, medical and dental issuesrepeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervisionrecurring illnesses or infectionsnot been given appropriate medicinesmissed medical appointments such as vaccinationspoor muscle tone or prominent jointsskin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringwormthin or swollen tummyanaemiatirednessfaltering weight or growth and not reaching developmental milestones (known as failure to thrive)poor language, communication or social skills. Housing and family issues- living in an unsuitable home environment for example dog mess being left or not having any heatingleft alone for a long timetaking on the role of carer for other family members.   Other: Lateness or non-attendance at the settingPoor relationship with peersCompulsive stealing and scavenging Rockinghair twistingthumb suckingRunning awayLow self-esteem
Physical AbuseMay involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child  Physical signs that do not tally with the given account of occurrence conflictingunrealistic explanations of causerepeated injuriesdelay in reporting or seeking medical advice Bruises commonly on the head but also on the ear or neck or soft areas – the abdomen, back and buttocksdefensive wounds commonly on the forearm, upper arm, back of the leg, hands or feetclusters of bruises on the upper arm, outside of the thigh or on the bodybruises with dots of blood under the skina bruised scalp and swollen eyes from hair being pulled violentlybruises in the shape of a hand or object. Burns or scolds can be from hot liquids, hot objects, flames, chemicals or electricityon the hands, back, shoulders or buttocks; scalds may be on lower limbs, both arms and/or both legsa clear edge to the burn or scaldsometimes in the shape or an implement for example, a circular cigarette burnmultiple burns or scalds. Fractures and broken bones fractures to the ribs or the leg bones in babiesmultiple fractures or breaks at different stages of healing Other signs scarringeffects of poisoning such as vomiting, drowsiness or seizuresrespiratory problems from drowning, suffocation or poisoning  
Sexual AbuseForcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.  The activities may involve physical contact, penetrative or non-penetrative acts and also includes involving children in watching pornographic material or watching sexual acts.Sudden changes in behaviourDisplays of affection which are sexual and age inappropriate Tendency to cling or need constant reassurance Tendency to cry easily Regression to younger behaviour – e.g. thumb sucking, acting like a babyUnexplained gifts or money Depression and withdrawalWetting/soiling day or night Fear of undressing Stay away from certain people- they might avoid being alone with people, such as family members or friendsthey could seem frightened of a person or reluctant to socialise with them. Show sexual behaviour that’s inappropriate for their age- a child might become sexually active at a young agethey might be promiscuousthey could use sexual language or know information that you wouldn’t expect them to. Have physical symptoms- anal or vaginal sorenessan unusual dischargesexually transmitted infection (STI)pregnancy.  
Emotional AbuseThe persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.  RejectionIsolation child being blamed for actions of adultschild being used as carer for younger siblings affection and basic emotional care  giving/warmth, persistently absent or withheld. Babies and pre-school children who are being emotionally abused or neglected may: be overly-affectionate towards strangers or people they haven’t known for very longlack confidence or become wary or anxiousnot appear to have a close relationship with their parent, e.g. when being taken to or collected from nursery aggressive or nasty towards other children and animals. Older children may: use language, act in a way or know about things that you wouldn’t expect them to know for their agestruggle to control strong emotions or have extreme outburstsseem isolated from their parentslack social skills or have few, if any, friends.  

With any type of abuse, it is important to recognise any unusual behaviour:

  • withdrawn
  • suddenly behaves differently
  • anxious
  • clingy
  • depressed
  • aggressive
  • problems sleeping
  • develop eating disorders
  • wet the bed
  • soils clothes
  • takes risks
  • miss school
  • show changes in eating habits
  • become obsessive
  • have nightmares
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • self-harm
  • have thoughts about suicide

If a child makes an allegation of abuse to you:

  1. Ensure you make no promises to the child, do not promise to keep the information a secret.Reassure and support the child that they were right to tell youand that you will do everything possible to help, explain that you want to listen but you may have to ask someone else to help to sort things out.
  2. Listen carefully to what is said:
  3. remain calm
  4.  take what is being said seriously
  5.  do not ask leading questions eg. where did he/she hurt you
  6. Do not attempt to investigate an allegation
  7.  accept what is being said
  8. do not rush, hurry or dismiss the information being given.
  9. Avoid expressing your own views on the matter. A reaction of shock or disbelief could cause the child to ‘shut down’, retract or stop talking
  10. Do not ask them to repeat what they have said
  11. Tell them it’s not their fault. Abuse is never the child’s fault and they need to know this
  12. Say you will take them seriously. A child could keep abuse secret in fear they won’t be believed.
  13. Record everything that the child has declared factually with dates, times and sign it.
  14. Do not make any assumptions
  15. Do not write that the child looked scared or seemed upset, you can write that the child was shaking or crying.
  16. Don’t talk to the alleged abuser. Confronting the alleged abuser about what the child’s told you could make the situation a lot worse for the child.
  17. Explain what you’ll do next. If age appropriate, explain to the child you’ll need to report the abuse to someone who will be able to help
  18. Don’t delay reporting the abuse. The sooner the abuse is reported after the child discloses the better. Repost to the Safeguarding Designated officer who will report to the Local Authority Safeguarding board as soon as possible so details are fresh in your mind and action can be taken quickly.
  19. Ensure the child is not at harm or risk when they go home.If the child was making an allegation about somebody at home then social care would be contacted and temporary accommodation would be made whilst investigations took place.

Team staff meeting.
An update from the manager would be made to any staff that were involved in the case as to what the following steps were to be and what has happened so far.

Provide continuous care and support for the child whilst within the setting.
If the child were still to be enrolled at the setting, ensure they are given plenty of care and support and keep the routine of their day-to-day at nursery sequenced with what they know to avoid any added set back’s in their development.

If abuse is suspected but not disclosed by the child:

  1. Continue to talk to the child-Most children who are being abused find it very difficult to talk about it. By having ongoing conversations, the time may come when they’re ready to talk.
  1. Keep a dated record of concerns-This is a good way to keep a note of your concerns and the way your child is behaving. It can also help to spot patterns of behaviour.
  2. Talk to the child parents or health visitor-The professionals who come into contact with the child may also have noticed them acting unusually.
  3. Get someone else’s perspective-Talk about your concerns to other staff members to determine if they have noticed anything else.
  4. Contact the Local Authority Safeguarding Board for Advice. Document and follow up.

Staff member must complete the ‘Suspicion of Abuse Form’

Informing parents:

  • Parents are normally the first point of contact.
  • If a suspicion of abuse is recorded, parents are informed at the same time as the report is made, except where the guidance of the Safeguarding Children Board does not allow this.
  • This will usually be the case where the parent is the likely abuser. In these cases the Police/Children and Families Assessment Team will inform parents.