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One of the most important roles for any volunteer or employee is to be able to recognise abuse or neglect in the course of their everyday work. Sometimes, the signs are very obvious such as broken bones or cuts and bruises. However, sometimes the signs are a lot less easy to spot.

All adults working with children and young people need to be alert to signs of abuse or neglect and know how to respond appropriately (including knowing who in their organisation to share their concerns with and where appropraite, knowing how to ask relevant non-leading questions to see if there is a reasonable and consistent explanation for the signs observed).

Recognising Neglect

  • Constant hunger - inc. scavenging for food
  • Poor personal hygiene - inc being unwashed, body odour
  • Poor state of clothing - poor fitting or inappropriate shoes, clothes too small, no suitable outdoor clothing
  • Frequent lateness or non-attendance at school, etc
  • Untreated injuries/medical problems
  • Unexplained injuries or burns, particularly if they are recurrent
  • Improbable excuses given to explain injuries
  • Refusal to discuss injuries
  • Untreated injuries
  • Fear of parents being contacted
  • Arms and legs kept covered – even in hot weather
  • Fear of medical help

Recognising Emotional Abuse

  • Over-reaction to mistakes
    Sudden speech disorders
    Neurotic behaviour e.g. rocking, hair-twisting, thumb sucking
    Self mutilation
    Extremes of passivity or aggression

Recognising Sexual Abuse

  • Vivid details of sexual activity
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Sexual drawings
  • Sexualised play with explicit acts
  • Soreness of genitalia or bottom

Once the abuse has been recognised, all staff need to know how to raise their concerns withn itheir organisations through their named safeguarding lead, and with Children's Social Care via the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01902 555392.

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