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Safeguarding children – signs of abuse

Peter Ellis - Independent Nursing, Health and Social Care Consultant, Writer and Educator First published: Last updated:

One of the main reasons nurses and other healthcare professionals underreport signs of child abuse is a lack of knowledge (Gubbels et al., 2021). As well as understanding the forms of abuse which can affect children, nurses therefore need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of the different forms of abuse which impact children. 

Nurse need to remember that different forms of abuse may happen simultaneously and that some forms of abuse may present in similar ways. HM Government (2015) identify how the early warning signs of abuse may also vary between children and children with different abilities may find it hard to seek help or articulate what is happening to them.  This observation should not however, stop nurses reporting any suspicions they have.

HM Government (2015) identify some general signs of abuse which might cause the nurse to stop and consider what they are seeing. These include

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Peter Ellis

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