Emotional abuse is when a child is deprived of love, warmth and affection or is persistently treated negatively, inconsistently, inappropriately or is rejected. This may include the child being constantly told that they are worthless, unloved or inadequate or the parent or carer having unreasonable and unrealistic expectations of the child's abilities or making the child being made to feel frightened or in danger.
Recognising emotional abuse.
Signs of emotional abuse include:
very low self esteem, often with an inability to accept praise or trust in adults
excessive clinging and attention seeking behaviour
over anxious - being excessively 'watchful', constantly checking or being over anxious to please
withdrawn and socially isolated
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocation.
Recognising physical abuse:
Bruising is a concern when bruises:
i. can be seen on parts of the body not normally harmed through play
ii. appear in or around the mouth (especially in young babies)
iii. appear as small 'grasp' or finger marks to a child's arms or legs
iv. look like they have been caused by a stick or belt
v. appear to be of different ages (colour) in the same area
vi. appear the same on both sides of the body, legs, head or arms
vii. appear as bite marks especially when the marks appear to be those of an adult or older child (more than 3cm across)
viii. are seen in a baby which is not mobile
Most fractures are treated by a hospital. It is concerning when a child is not taken for treatment if they are suffering pain, swelling or discolouration over a bone or joint. Although it may not always be possible to know whether a child has a fractured bone it is difficult for a parent or carer to be unaware that the child has been hurt. It is rare for children under the age of one to sustain a fracture accidentally.
It can be difficult to distinguish between a burn or scald that has been caused accidentally or non-accidentally. As with fractures all burns and scalds should receive medical treatment.