Child Safeguarding Policy & Child Protection Guidance Appendix B: General Signs of harm or abuse

Anyone working with children or young people needs to be vigilant to the following general signs of abuse and neglect. The child or young person may:

  • Show changes in behaviour; immediate or over a period of time
  • Appear afraid, quiet, or withdrawn or does not integrate
  • Have injuries that do not reflect the activity the child or young person is involved in
  • Cover arms and legs, even in hot weather, or without religious reasons
  • Appear anxious, clingy, or depressed
  • Appear afraid to go home or show an inexplicable fear of particular places or seeks excuses to avoid particular people
  • Regularly flinch in response to sudden but harmless actions, for example someone raising a hand quickly
  • Have angry outbursts or behave aggressively towards others
  • Appear hungry, tired or unkempt, their appearance or hygiene may deteriorate
  • Be left unattended or unsupervised or have too much responsibility for their age
  • Have knowledge of ‘adult issues’ for example alcohol, drugs and/or sexual behaviour or language which is inappropriate for their age or stage of development
  • Show risky behaviour such as substance misuse or criminal activity
  • Self-harm or share thoughts about suicide
  • Not receive adequate medical attention after injuries
  • Have changes in eating habits or develop eating disorders
  • Run away or regularly go missing from home, learning or care
  • Regularly experience nightmares or sleep problems

Particularly Vulnerable Groups

Some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, disability or learning difficulties, communication needs or other issues and may be more likely to suffer abuse. Other groups that are more vulnerable are:

  • Teenagers
  • Children at risk of FGM (female genital mutilation)
  • Asylum seekers
  • ‘Looked after’ children
  • Children living away from home
  • Children living with parental substance misuse and parental mental ill-health
  • Children or young people may be identified as requiring additional support. For example, this may be in relation to an additional learning or support need, through care or aftercare, youth justice or a health need any of which could be chronic, short, or long-term.
  • Supported by a Care Plan or receiving multi-agency support
  • Anyone not identified above but who has protection under the Equality Act 2010

We should be alert to signs of extremism to protect children and young people from these risks in a similar way to protecting them from harm and abuse. Extremism is defined as an opposition to fundamental values, e.g. democracy, law, liberty, respect & tolerance of other faiths & beliefs. It may include far right views, animal rights activism, & some religious fundamentalism.

We understand that the following factors make young people vulnerable:

  • Pressure from peers & others or the internet
  • Crime against them or involvement in crime
  • Anti-social behaviour and bullying
  • Family tensions
  • Race or hate crime
  • Lack of self-esteem or identity
  • Personal or political grievances
  • Isolation, withdrawal
  • If they have witnessed, or are subject to harmful behaviours e.g., domestic violence

If there is a concern, you must report it in the same way as any other abuse and this in-turn may be referred to Channel, a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.