Topic 3: Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect

Understanding what child abuse and neglect are and knowing how to take appropriate action are critical in ensuring the safety and well-being of children.

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open—What to Watch For

There are two main types of signs – disclosures and indicators. You should be prepared to recognize and respond to both.

It is important to note that many indicators – especially those of a behavioural nature – may be signs of other problems. However, a series or cluster of indicators observed over a period of time may be a child’s reaction to abuse or neglect, and may appear as dramatic changes from the child’s normal behaviour. By themselves, indicators do not prove child abuse or neglect. But they do tell us we need to know more about the child’s circumstances. They can result from phenomena such as divorce, separation, the death of a significant person and the arrival of a new sibling.

That is why indicators must be reported to a child welfare worker. The worker can help you determine if the indicators you have observed are cause for concern. You do not have to give your name. Remember, it is always best to err on the side of caution.

There are two main types of signs – disclosures and indicators. You should be prepared to recognize and respond to both.