Changes in a Child’s Behaviour

Changes in a Child’s Behaviour and how this might be a Sign of Neglect or Abuse

All forms of abuse are likely to create change in behaviour of the victim. Staff need to be aware of changes in a child/young persons behaviour or patterns of behaviour, their mood, their appearance and their self esteem and confidence. Behaviour changes could mean a child has become:

  • Withdrawn
  • Timid
  • Easily Startled or Boisterous
  • Aggressive
  • Attention Seeking or wanting to please

Other indicators that staff may notice. Children may have:

  • Depression, anxiety or self harm
  • Eating disorders
  • Younger behaviour, that is not characteristic of their current age and ability

You might also be concerned if a child is not attending school regularly or is being admitted to several different A&E departments or GP drop in centres. These could be ways for an abuser to cover up how often the child needs medical help.

It is important to be aware that not all children will display the same symptoms and that usually there is more than one type of abuse happening for example, physical and emotional abuse. Raising concerns sooner rather than later will reduce the child/young person’s difficulties and thereby improve their safety and well-being and increase the likelihood of positive outcomes.

Use to answer question 11.1 viii of the Care Certificate

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