Recognizing Abuse

By : CSAC Publish on : May 16, 2021

How to Recognize Child Abuse

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of abuse to be aware of and recognize. The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family, but a closer look at the situation may be warranted when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination. The best way to get an understanding of what’s happening in a child’s life is to engage in open discussions and check-in on a regular basis.

  • Sudden or extreme changes in behaviour, performance or appearance.
  • Sexual knowledge, use of vocabulary, or behaviour beyond their stage of development.
  • Absenteeism
  • Not wanting to go home or adamant resist/refusal to spend time with a particular person.
  • Always hungry, sick, unclean or not suitably dressed for the weather.
  • Excessively seeks approval.
  • Extreme behavioural reactions such as aggression, withdrawal or depression
  • Unexplained physical symptoms/injuries that don’t match the child’s explanation

Types of Abuse

Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional and/or sexual mistreatment or lack of care (neglect) that causes injury or emotional damage to a child or youth. 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is the inappropriate exposure of a child to sexual contact, activity, or behaviour by a parent/guardian, adult, teenager or older child. Sexual abuse includes online luring, non-contact activities and sexual exploitation.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the use of force on any part of a child’s body that results in trauma or injuries. It may happen once or many times as a pattern of incidents. These injuries are often the result of unreasonable, severe corporal punishment of a child.


Neglect is failing to provide age-appropriate basic care to keep them safe and healthy such as food, clothing, shelter, love and affection, medical and dental care, education, and protection from harm.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is anything that causes mental or emotional harm to a child. It is a pattern of ongoing behaviour by the parent or guardian that seriously interferes with the healthy development or the mental or emotional functioning of the child. Emotional abuse can take the form of verbal attacks on a child’s sense of self, repeated humiliation or rejection. Exposure to domestic violence and severe conflict in the home, forced isolati