Types of Child Abuse and Its Indicators

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About this sample


Words: 1343 |

Pages: 2|

7 min read

Published: Apr 15, 2020

Words: 1343|Pages: 2|7 min read

Published: Apr 15, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Neglect
  3. Emotional abuse
  4. Sexual abuse
  5. Conclusion

Abuse is when a child is intentionally harmed by an adult or another child. It can occur over a period of time or be a one-off action. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or being neglected.

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Abuse can sometimes be very obvious, but other times the signs can be much more subtle. It is also usual for symptoms and behaviours of different types of abuse to overlap, so it is important to be vigilant have a good understanding of the signs and symptoms. It is also important to listen both to the child and any comments that the parents or carers may make.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is when physical harm is inflicted upon a child and includes hitting, kicking, punching, biting, scratching, shaking, beating or burning. In the case of domestic abuse, it may be that the child has been witness to these actions towards a parent or family member. Children who live in a home where there is domestic abuse are more likely to experience other type of abuse. Physical abuse can also include giving the child harmful substances such as drugs and or alcohol. Also encouraging a child to inflict harm on another child is another form of physical abuse. Indicators of physical abuse can include unexpected bruising in places such as tops and back of arms and legs, on the neck, chest, stomach, buttocks or places hidden by clothing or bruises that show finger marks or the outline of other shapes. If the child is weary of physical contact or reluctant to undress (i.e., if they have got wet or dirty from play and need changing) this can be an indicator. You could consider whether this child frequently has bruising outside of the expected bumps and knocks that a child would more usually have, for example forehead, knees and elbows. Children love to play and can be clumsy and boisterous so some bruising and injury can be a common occurrence, my 5-year-old son loves climbing trees and is learning to ride his bike and always has bumps and scrapes to show for it! However, continuous injuries in unusual places should be monitored, especially if a parent or career cannot offer a suitable explanation, or the child's account of the injury is very different from the parent carers. Behaviours that may cause concern can include, but are not limited to the child being withdrawn, shy, reluctant to talk, knowledge of adult issues inappropriate for their age, unexplained changes in their personality, being aggressive or violent towards other children or always choosing to wear clothes that cover their bodies, even on hot days.


Neglect is described as a lack of love, care and attention. It is a deprivation of the child's basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, health care, medicines, washing or supervision. This deprivation can put the child in danger and also have a long-term impact upon their physical and mental wellbeing. Neglect can also be when the child does not receive an education or the proper health care, including dental health. For example the parent may not clean their teeth or take them to the dentist, or refusing or ignoring other medical recommendations. It is also important to consider the neglect of a child's emotional needs, if they do not receive the love and nurturing that they need. This can include things such as ignoring them, humiliation, intimidation or isolation. Neglect can be difficult to spot, it is important to look for multiple signs that last over a period of time. Sign and indicators can include having poor hygiene and being dirty or smelly. Being hungry, having a poor packed lunch in quality and or volume of food or not given any money to buy food. Having unwashed and dirty clothing. Not having the right type of clothing for the season, i.e., a warm coat in winter or a sunhat in summer. Babies could have frequent or untreated nappy rash or other skin conditions that have not been treated. Children could also suffer from health and development problems such as medical or dental issues, poor muscle tone or prominent joints, poor language or social skills, tiredness, a thin or swollen tummy, weight or growth issues, or untreated injuries. There could also be family or housing issues, the child could tell you about issues within the home, for example, no heating or hot water, being left on their own for long periods of time or having to provide care for other family members themselves. Behaviours that may cause concern can include, but are not limited to the child becoming clingy, withdrawn depressed or anxious. Changes in eating habits or stealing food. Finding it hard to concentrate on activities can be a sign of tiredness or hunger. Being aggressive with other children or showing signs of self-harm.

Emotional abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse is when a child is continually emotionally mistreated. It is often part of other kinds of abuse which means it can be hard to spot, although it can also happen on its own, especially if online. Emotional abuse can include trying to scare, humiliate, isolate or ignore. Emotional abuse can also include threatening or shouting at a child, calling them names, not allowing them to have friends, manipulating them, never saying anything kind or expressing positive feelings or being absent from them. Signs and indicators can include being unconfident or lacking in self-assurance, struggling to control their emotions, have problems in building and keeping friendships and relationships or act in a way that is not appropriate for their age group. Behaviours that may cause concern can include, but are not limited to being unconfident, wary or anxious. Not having a close bond with their parent. Being cruel or aggressive to other children or animals. Being overly affectionate with other adults or strangers. They may find it difficult to control their emotions, use bad language, lack social skills, not have many friends or tend to have extreme outbursts. If they are already potty trained, they may show a regression in wetting or soiling.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity in which they are forced, tricked or unable to give informed consent. The child might not be able to understand what is happening to them or that it is wrong. It can also happen online, or in person. A child may be groomed in preparation for abuse. Sexual abuse also includes forcing a child to observe sexual acts or pornography. It also includes observing or photographing the child for purposes of sexual gratification. Signs and indicators can include being frightened of a person they know and not wanting to be alone with them. Knowledge of language or sexual behaviour that is not appropriate to their age. Changes in their eating habits or being 'off' their food. Having nightmares, bedwetting or toileting regression. Physical signs could include bruises, bleeding, discharge or injury to their private areas, sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. It is also important to be aware of any changes in their online habits if the child is old enough to be online. For example, they may seem angry or upset after using the internet or their phone. They may be secretive about what they are doing online or who they are talking to. It is important to emphasise that sexual abuse is never a child's fault and it is important that all children are reassured of this.

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Child abuse can affect anyone and sadly, it is not being taken as seriously as it should. There are so many types that can lead to so many effects that are insane and even deadly. It is saddening how the closest ones to you could cause a person so much harm. The results can be carried for as long as the victim lives, and more should be done to help prevent abuse. Children and adult survivors should be able to talk freely and get the help they need. With all the information given, its obvious that child abuse should be looked at as more serious than it's taken.

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Types of Abuse and Its Indicators. (2022, December 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
“Types of Abuse and Its Indicators.” GradesFixer, 06 Dec. 2022,
Types of Abuse and Its Indicators. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Jul. 2024].
Types of Abuse and Its Indicators [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Dec 06 [cited 2024 Jul 17]. Available from:
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