Protecting our children: what are the signs?

In a society where children are exposed to so much and have freedoms like never before the Department of Community Services believes it is more important than ever to take steps to protect kids from neglect and abuse.

“One of the most important concerns of any community is the health, safety and well being of its children and young people,” the Department of Community services website said.

“Whilst parents and carers are responsible for the safety and welfare of children in their care, protecting children and young people from abuse and neglect is the responsibility of the whole community.”

Abuse and neglect towards children isn’t solely focused on one socioeconomic group, race or religion, it can happen in any family and the effects can be damaging and last for a lifetime.

Abuse comes in many forms, physical, emotional and sexual. As a community it is important to be aware of the signs that a child is being neglected or abused.

“There are common physical and behavioural signs that may indicate abuse or neglect,” A Department of Community services spokesperson said.

“The presence of one of these signs does not necessarily mean abuse or neglect. Other things need to be considered, such as the circumstances of the child, young person or family.”

The Department of Community Services website said the following risk factors (either singularly or in combination) are associated with increased risk of harm for children and young people:

  • social or geographic isolation of the child, young person or family, including lack of access to extended family
  • previous abuse or neglect of a brother or sister
  • family history of violence including domestic violence
  • physical or mental health issues for the parent or caregiver which affects their ability to care for the child or young person in their care
  • the parent or caregivers’ abuse of alcohol or other drugs which affects their ability to care for the child or young person in their care.

The Community Services website said the above are only possible signs of abuse and neglect.

The presence of the above signs does not necessarily mean abuse and neglect has been, or is, occurring.

For more information or to find more signs to look out for with other types of abuse or neglect go to http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/preventing-child-abuse-and-neglect/what-is-child-abuse/signs-of-abuse.

If you have concerns you should report them to Community Services by calling the Child Protection Help line on 132 111.

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