Bullying is not defined as a form of abuse in Working Together but there is clear evidence that it is abusive and will include at least one, if not two, three or all four, of the defined categories of abuse. Recognising child abuse is not easy. It is not our responsibility to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place or if a child is at significant risk of harm from someone. We do however, have both a responsibility and duty, as set out in your organisation’s child protection procedures, to act in order that the appropriate agencies can investigate and take any necessary action to protect a child. Physical abuse
Physical abuse is deliberately causing physical harm to a child. This might involve punching; kicking, biting, burning, scalding, shaking, throwing or beating with objects such as belts, whips, or sticks. It also includes poisoning, giving a child alcohol or illegal drugs, drowning or suffocation. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of illness in a child. Signs of Physical Abuse
There are certain signs that need to be acknowledged when suspicion arises that physical abuse is occurring: Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given to staff. Injuries which occur to any part of the body but usually in places which are not normally exposed to falls or rough games Injuries which have not received medical attention
Reluctance to change in the heat, or to change/participate in activities such as, PE or swimming Bruises (usually in clusters), human bites, cigarette burns and fractures, for example, which do not have an accidental explanation multiple burns with a clearly demarcated edge
Fear of parents being approached for an explanation
Flinching when approached or touched
Aggressive behaviour and/or sudden anger outbursts
Running away from home
Possible effects of physical abuse
Physical abuse can lead directly to neurological damage, physical injuries, disability and in extreme cases death. Physical abuse has been linked to aggressive behavior in children, emotional and behavioral problems and learning difficulties. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is where repeated verbal threats, criticism, shouting, lack of love and affection causes a severe adverse effect on a child’s emotional development. It consists of communicating to children that they are worthless, unloved, and inadequate or valued. Emotional abuse may include not giving a child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say. It may feature inappropriate expectations being imposed on a child, over protection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child from taking part in normal social interaction.
Signs of possible emotional abuse
• Depression, aggression, extreme anxiety, changes or regression in mood or behavior, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clingy • Obsessions or phobias
• Sudden underachievement or lack of concentration
• Seeking adult attention and not mixing well with other children • Sleep or speech disorders
• Low self-esteem
• Fear of parents/carer being approached regarding their behavior • Fear of making mistakes
Possible effects of emotional abuse
This type of abuse can lead to adverse long-term effects on the child’s development. Emotional abuse has a significant impact on a developing child’s mental health, behavior and self-esteem. This type of abuse is as important as the other three types, and can be detected as the signs are more visible and can be easily detected. Domestic violence, adult mental health problems and parental substance misuse may be features in families where children are exposed to such abuse.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. This may involve physical contact including penetrative sex, oral sex, masturbation, kissing, rubbing, or touching outside of clothing, or it may involve non-contact activities such as involving children in watching sexual activities, producing or looking at sexual images, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Abusers can be men, women or other children.
Between 21% and 36% of sexually abused children will display few or no symptoms but it is usually a child’s behavior which becomes a cause for concern. Children who tell of sexual abuse do so because they want it to stop therefore is extremely important to listen to a child that discloses such an allegation. Signs of possible sexual abuse
• Any allegations made by a child concerning sexual abuse • self-harming, sometimes leading to suicide attempts
• Sexual activity through words, play or drawing
• Repeated urinary infections, itching or bleeding around genital area and/or unexplained stomach pains • The child is sexually provocative or seductive with adults • Saying they have a secrets that they cannot share with anyone • Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares which sometimes have overt or veiled sexual connotations or bedwetting •
Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
Possible effects of sexual abuse
Behavior such as self-harm, inappropriate sexual behavior, sadness, depression and loss of self-esteem has all been linked to sexual abuse. The effects of sexual abuse can affect the individual into their adult life. The extent or the severity of each case is determined by the time span of abuse, the more serious the abuse, the younger the child is and the relationship of the child to the abuser. Once sexual abuse has been identified the support of an adult who believes the child helps, starts to help the child understand the abuse and can therefore offer help and protection to the abused child.
Neglect has been described as the “most serious type of child maltreatment and the least understood” (Crittenden 1999: 67). It is the most common reason for a child to be placed on the child protection register in the UK. Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and or psychological needs, which is likely to affect the child’s health or development. Neglect is when a parent or carer fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment), medical care, or protection from physical and emotional harm or danger. Additionally failure to ensure access to education or to look after a child because the carer is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is considered as Neglect.
Signs of possible neglect
• Dirty skin, body smells, unwashed, uncombed hair and untreated lice • Clothing that is dirty, too big or small, or inappropriate for weather conditions • frequently left unsupervised or alone
• Frequent diarrhoea
• complaints of being tired all the time
• Untreated illnesses, infected cuts or physical complaints which the carer doesn’t respond to • frequently hungry sometimes stealing other children’s food • Being underweight
Possible effects of neglect
Neglect can seriously impair a child’s health, physical and intellectual growth and development, and can cause long term difficulties with social functioning, relationships and educational progress. Extreme cases of neglect can cause death.
Bullying is also recognized as a type of abuse. Bullying is always distressing for the victim and can have serious consequences. Bullying should always be taken seriously. Emotional bullying is the most commonly reported by children and young people and is often more difficult to spot. Bullying can take place both inside and outside of the school.
Bullying happens when an individual or a group show hostility towards an individual and this can be: • Emotional, such as name-calling, not talking to someone, taking or hiding personal items, humiliating, spreading rumors or teasing • Physical, such as pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching or threatening to use physical force • Racist, such as racial taunts or gestures
• Sexual, such as inappropriate physical contact, sexual comments and innuendo, or homophobic taunts.
Signs of possible bullying
Loss of personal possessions, dinner money or items of clothing Torn clothing, maybe even having cuts and bruises (if physically bullied) Shyness, withdrawn behavior, lack of self-esteem and depression Aggressive, bad tempered behavior and may become aggressive to younger siblings Threaten or attempt suicide
Not achieving very well academically
Not wanting to leave their home
Possible effects of bullying
Bullying will most definitely affect a child’s social and emotional development as they have very low self-esteem maybe depression and will probably try to isolate themselves from others which will have a profound effect on their social skills with their peers and pretty much everybody around them, they may become aggressive and bad tempered and may threaten or attempt suicide and in some extreme cases may actually commit suicide.
In recent years, a new form of bullying known as ‘cyber-bullying’ has become increasingly common. Cyber-bullying may be emotional, racist or sexual forms of abuse. It happens through emails, text messages or telephone calls. Information about someone may also be shared by putting it on to social networking sites. This can include the sharing of private photographs. Children and young people who use this method of bullying often feel disassociated from their actions, but the consequences can be just as serious for the child. This type of bullying can be particularly distressing as children are unable to get away from it, it even invades their home.