Quick Escape
 
 
 
If you think a child is being harmed or neglected,
contact CFS at 1-866-345-9241.
 
Note: If this is an emergency, contact your local police emergency number.

Information on the Types and Signs of Child Abuse

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What should I do if a child says they are being abused?

  • Listen to the child.
  • Allow the child to tell what happened in his/her own words.
  • Do not ask leading questions.
  • Remain calm and neutral.
  • Do not over-react, show horror, anger, or any other emotion that could make the child think the abuse or neglect is his/her fault.
  • Support and acknowledge the child’s feelings and reassure him/her it was a good thing to tell you.
  • Tell the child you believe what he/she said.
  • Assure the child you will do something to help.

What will I need to say when I call?

  • your name and phone number (NOTE: all reports are confidential, but you can also choose not to give your name)
  • how long you have known the child/family
  • your relationship to the child/family
  • any information you know about the child/family
  • why you are concerned about the child
  • what have you seen or heard
  • what the child has told you
  • what others have told you
  • where the child is now 

What types of abuse are there?

The types and signs of abuse are:
 
Neglect is failure to provide care to a child. The lack of care can cause serious harm to a child's mental and physical development and or put the child in danger.
 
 Physical neglect is failure to give the child his/her basic daily needs, including failure to provide:
  • proper food/nutrition
  • proper clothing
  • safe, clean shelter
  • health/medical care
  • protection from harm
Emotional neglect is the failure to meet the child's ongoing emotional needs for:
  • affection
  • a sense of safety
  • a sense of belonging

    Some behavioural signs of neglect could include but are not limited to:
    • frequent absence from school
    • inappropriate clothing for the weather
    • dirty clothes
    • inappropriate acts or delinquent behaviour
    • abuse of alcohol/drugs
    • begging / stealing food
    • frequently tired
    • seeks inappropriate affection
    • mature for their age
    • reports of being left alone

    Some physical signs of neglect could include but are not limited to:
    • poor hygiene
    • unattended physical or medical needs
    • consistent lack of supervision
    • underweight, poor growth, failure to thrive
    • constant hunger
    • dirty clothes
    • under nourished

Emotional abuse is usually a repeated pattern that includes:
  • repeated exposure to alcohol or drug abuse
  • repeated verbal attacks, humiliation or rejection
  • repeated exposure to violence or fighting
  • forced isolation, restraint or causing fear

    Some behavioural signs of emotional abuse could include but are not limited to:
    • depression
    • withdrawal or aggressive behaviour
    • overly compliant
    • too neat and clean
    • habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking, etc.)
    • learning disorders
    • sleep disorders
    • unusual fearfulness
    • obsessive compulsive behaviour
    • phobias
    • harming themselves
    • extreme behaviour
    • suicide attempts
    • developmental delays
    Some physical signs of emotional abuse could include but are not limited to:
    • bed-wetting
    • headaches
    • nausea
    • speech disorders
    • lags in physical development
    • disruptive behaviour

Physical abuse can be a single incident or repeated pattern including:
  • the intentional use of force or pain on any part of a child's body
  • any contact or action that causes physical injuries

    Some behavioural signs of physical abuse could include but are not limited to:
    • inconsistent explanation for injuries or cannot remember
    • wary of adults
    • flinch if touched unexpectedly
    • extremely aggressive or extremely withdrawn
    • feels deserving of punishment
    • apprehensive when others cry
    • frightened of parents
    • afraid to go home

    Some physical signs of physical abuse could include but are not limited to:
    • injuries not consistent with explanation
    • numerous injuries in varying stages of recovery or healing
    • presence of injuries over an extended period of time
    • facial injuries
    • injuries inconsistent with the child’s age and developmental phase

Sexual abuse is exposing a child to sexual contact, activity or behaviour, including:
  • any sexual touching
  • intercourse, exploitation or exposure

    Some behavioural signs of sexual abuse could include but are not limited to: 
    • sexual knowledge or play inappropriate to age
    • sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge
    • prostitution
    • poor peer relationships
    • delinquent or runaway
    • reports sexual assault by caretaker
    • change in performance in school
    • sleeping disorders
    • aggressive behaviour
    • self-harm (ex. cutting, suicide attempts)
    Some physical signs of sexual abuse could include but are not limited to:
    • unusual or excessive itching in the genital or anal area
    • stained or bloody underwear
    • pregnancy
    • injuries to the vaginal or anal areas
    • sexually transmitted infections
    • difficult walking or sitting
    • pain when peeing
    • vaginal/penile discharge
    • excessive masturbation
    • urinary tract infections

If you think a child is being harmed or neglected, please contact your local Designated Intake Agency or local police agency.   

When else might a CFS agency get involved?

Some examples of when child and family services can help include:

  • when a parent needs help parenting or caring for their children
  • when the parents or children are intoxicated or high on drugs
  • when the parents or children are suicidal
  • if parents have a sudden medical emergency and no one can take care of the children
  • if children have been abandoned by parents or guardians
  • if there is violence in the home