This is when someone hurts a child or young person on purpose and can include hitting, shaking and making a child ill. Signs of physical abuse include:
- Unexplained recurrent injuries/marks/burns
- Wearing clothes to cover injuries, even in hot weather
- Fear of physical contact - shrinking back if touched
This is when someone is told, asked or forced to take part in sexual activities. It includes:
- Making them do sexual things either to themselves or with other people
- Involving them in the making of films, videos or DVDs or taking photos and videos on mobile phones that involve sexual activity
- Making them watch sexual behaviour
Signs of sexual abuse can include:
- Extreme reactions such as depression, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, running away, overdoses, anorexia
- Personality changes such as becoming insecure or clingy
- Being isolated or withdrawn
- Medical problems such as chronic itching, pain in the genitals, venereal diseases
Emotional abuse happens in many different ways. It can affect how a young person or child feels about themselves, how they feel they fit in, with friends, at school, or where they live. Examples include:
- Being made to feel inadequate, wrong or unhappy
- Being unfairly blamed
- Being bullied
- Being made to feel frightened or in danger
- Seeing or hearing someone from home being hurt by another member of the family (domestic abuse)
Signs of emotional abuse include:
- Physical, mental and emotional development delays
- Continual self-depreciation ('I'm stupid/ugly/worthless' etc.)
- Inappropriate response to pain ('I deserve this')
- Neurotic behaviour (rocking, hair twisting, self-mutilation)
This is when a child or young person is not being properly looked after. This could damage their health or wellbeing.
A child should be safe at home, have proper clothing and cleanliness, be provided with medical treatment as necessary and should be protected from physical and emotional harm and danger.
Signs of neglect might be:
- Constant hunger, tiredness
- Poor personal hygiene and/or state of clothing
- Untreated medical problems
- Poor social relationships
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female organs for non-medical reasons.
Signs and symptoms of female genital mutilation:
- May have difficulty walking, sitting or standing.
- Spending longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet.
- Have an unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college.
- Be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations.
- They may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
Historic child abuse
Our Historic Child Protection Investigation Team is made up of a dedicated team of specialist detectives and staff that investigate allegations of child abuse – both sexual and physical abuse where the person is now an adult but the offences were alleged to have taken place when the person was under 18 years of age.