Worried About Your Child – Uberheroes

Worried About Your Child

Children who are sexually abused may:

Are you staying away from certain people?

  • they might avoid being alone with people, such as family members or friends
  • they could seem frightened of a person or unwilling to socialise with them.

Show sexual behaviour that’s inappropriate for their age

  • a child might become sexually active at a young age
  • they might be promiscuous
  • they could use sexual language or know information that they shouldn’t know
  • Have physical symptoms

  • anal or vaginal soreness
  • an unusual discharge
  • sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • pregnancy.
    • Things you may notice

      If you’re worried that a child is being abused, watch out for any unusual behaviour.

      • Are you being withdrawn, behaving differently or overly anxious?
      • Being clingy, depressed, real problems with sleeping
      • eating disorders wets the bed soils clothes
      • taking unnecessary risks missing school changes in eating habits obsessive behaviour
      • nightmares issues withdrugs alcohol self-harm
      • thoughts about suicide

      Behavioural and emotional signs may include:

      • A shift in disposition or mood, such as anxiety, depression, anger, rebellion, withdrawal, or clinginess.
      • Running away from home
      • Too “perfect” behaviour
      • Disturbances in sleep, such as nightmares or night terrors
      • Changes in eating habits
      • Changes in attitude towards school or academics
      • Sudden refusal to change for gym or participate in physical activities
      • Unusual fear of certain people or places
      • Reluctance to be left alone with a certain person
      • Changes in body perception, such as thinking of themselves or their bodies as being dirty or bad
      • Regression to outgrown behaviours, such as bedwetting or thumb sucking
      • Bizarre, sophisticated, unusual, or age-inappropriate sexual behaviour or language
      • Abuse of other children sexually, or attempts to undress other people

      Physical signs of child sexual abuse may include:

      • Contracts sexually transmitted infections (previously known as STDs)
      • Vaginal or rectal cuts or tears, pain, itching, swelling, bleeding, or discharge
      • Trauma to breasts, buttocks, or lower abdomen
      • Blood in the child’s underwear
      • Unexplained or frequent health problems such as headaches or stomach aches
      • Difficulty with bowel movements, urinating, or swallowing
      • Self-mutilation, such as biting self, pulling out hair, or wrist-cutting
      • Difficulty walking or sitting

      Who is most likely to be impacted by child abuse?

      • Any child can be victim to child abuse, however children who are vulnerable, isolated and/or have a disability are disproportionately abused.
      • Child abuse is often committed by someone the child knows well such as a family member or someone within the early childhood setting. In fact, child abuse can be committed by any member of the community.
      • Regardless of who the perpetrator or victim is, the trauma of child abuse can have a devastating and lifelong impact upon a child’s wellbeing and development.
      • This is why it is critical that we respond immediately to any form of suspected abuse within our communities.

      Common PHYSICAL indicators of child abuse

      • bruises, welts, cuts/grazes or burns (especially those on back, bottom, legs, arms and inner thighs or in unusual configurations and may resemble an object)
      • internal injuries and bone fractures not consistent with the explanation offered
      • any injury to the genital or rectal area (e.g. bruising, bleeding, infection or anything causing pain to go to the toilet)
      • wearing clothes unsuitable for weather conditions to hide injuries
      • sexually-transmitted diseases and/or frequent urinary tract infections
      • appearing consistently dirty and unwashed and/or inappropriately dressed for weather conditions
      • being consistently hungry, tired and listless having unattended health problems and lack of routine medical care.

      Common BEHAVIOURAL indicators of child abuse

        In an infant or toddler:
      • self-stimulatory behaviours, for example, rocking, head banging
      • crying excessively, or not at all
      • listless and immobile and/or emancipated and pale
      • significant delays in gross motor development and coordination
      • inadequate attention to the safety of the home (e.g. dangerous medicines left where children may have access to them)
      • being left unsupervised, either at home, on the street or in a car
      • parent/carer is unresponsive or impatient to child’s cues and unreceptive to support
      • developmental delay due to lack of stimulation.

      In all children:

      • disclosure of abuse and/or drawings or writing which depicts violence and abuse
      • inconsistent or unlikely explanation for an injury, or inability to remember the cause
      • regressive or unusual changes to behaviour (E.g. sudden decline in academic performance, nervousness, depression, withdrawal, hyperactivity, aggression, bedwetting)
      • reluctance to go home and/or a wariness or fear of a parent/carer
      • unusual fear of physical contact with adults

      • persistent and age-inappropriate sexual activity (e.g. excessive masturbation or rubbing genitals against adults, promiscuity)
      • suicide or self-harm, harm to others or animals
      • an unusually close connection with an older person
      • possessing expensive gifts or money (e.g. a new mobile phone given to them by a “friend”)
      • taking on a caretaker role prematurely, trying to protect other family members.

      Common indicators of adults abusing children

      Family members (parents, siblings, extended family)

      • attempts by one parent to alienate their child from the other parent
      • overprotective or volatile relationships
      • reluctance by the child to be alone with one or more of their family members
      • a child and a sibling behaving like boyfriend and girlfriend (embarrassment if they are found alone together).

      Other adults (service staff member, volunteers, coaches etc.)

      • touching a child inappropriately
      • befriending the parents/carers of the child and making visits to their home
      • undermining the child’s reputation, so that the child won’t be believed
      • bringing up sexual material or personal disclosures into conversations with a child
      • obvious or inappropriate preferential treatment of the child. (e.g. making them feel “special”)
      • inappropriate contact with the child, (e.g. calls, emails, texts, social media)
      • giving inappropriate/expensive gifts to a child
      • having inappropriate social boundaries, e.g. telling the child about their own personal problems

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