Child protection

Signs of child harm

What might make you concerned?

Children can't always tell us they are unhappy or that they are being harmed. There may be signs that concern you and these may indicate that a child is being neglected or abused. Or an adult may be acting in a way that concerns you. 

Please take action if you notice the signs.

Signs that a child or young person may be at harm

You may notice one or a combination of the following signs. A child or young person you know may:

  • have unexplained bruising, or bruising in an unexpected place 
  • appear quiet, withdrawn, or afraid to tell you something that sounds as if they have been hurt by someone
  • be afraid to go home
  • appear constantly hungry, tired or untidy
  • be left unattended or unsupervised
  • have too much responsibility for their age
  • be acting in a sexually inappropriate way
  • be misusing drugs or alcohol

Signs that an adult may be harming a child

Sometimes, it's the behaviour of the child’s parents or carers or another adult that concerns you. The adult may:

  • be acting in an aggressive, violent or sexual manner towards a child or young person
  • be misusing alcohol or drugs while caring for a child
  • leave their child unattended or with people who are unsuitable

These are just some of the ways that adults can harm children, you may have other concerns. It may be a one-off incident or a combination of things that happen over a period of time that concern you.

If you are concerned, talk to us

  • we will take your concerns seriously
  • we'll treat any information about you sensitively. We'll not reveal any details, including your name, unless the child's safety requires us to
  • we can still make enquiries into the child's welfare even if you don't give us your name. However, please be aware that this can make it more difficult for those looking into your concerns
  • we may need to share any information you give with other professionals to make sure we take the right action to keep the child you're concerned about safe