10 Signs that your child is being abused

As a parent guardian, or someone looking after a child, your primary concern is always the safety of the children in your care. So, how do you know when something might not be right and a child might have been abused? 

Children don’t always speak up, but here are ten signs to look out for:

Unexplained injuries

to their body like bruises, burns, swelling and so forth. In cases of sexual abuse, the child might have pain or bleed from their penis or vagina.

Antisocial behaviour or battling to make friends. 

Also watch out for any changes in their school work and performance. 

Changes in the child’s behaviour

– for instance, becoming incredibly nervous, aggressive, or withdrawn. Also be on the lookout for unusual reactions and “emotional storms” to normal situations.

Acting like they’re a lot older

than their age, and mimicking sex when they play with toys or friends.

Faking an illness or injury

or injury to get out of going to school or family events.

Always looking out for danger,

even when they’re in a safe situation. This is known as “hyper vigilance”.

Bed wetting or sleep issues.

Be on the lookout for sudden bad dreams and night terrors, and ask the child to tell you about their dreams.

Low self-confidence

where the child is too hard on him or herself and constantly believes they’re not good enough.

Very little appetite

or an unusually big appetite that might suggest that the child isn’t being given enough food at home.

Slow physical development.

For instance, an abused child might have thin arms because they are malnourished or under severe stress.

If you notice any of these signs, write down what you see and report it as soon as possible. If the child comes to you and tells you about the abuse, stay calm, listen and tell the child that they did a good job of telling you.

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Report Child Abuse To:

Child Line: 08000 55 555

Child Welfare SA: 0861 424 453

Child Emergency Line: 0800 123 321

Further references: 


TOLL-FREE NUMBER: 0800 000 408 

EMAIL: transneteap@mhg.co.za 

SMS or send a please call me: 083 450 0508