Identifying signs of child abuse

See: Four Steps: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse (pdf - 642.03kb)  |  Word version

​​

Critical Information

As a school staff member:
  • it is critical to be able to recognise the physical or behavioural signs of child abuse (in many circumstances they may be the only indication that a child is subject to abuse)

  • you may be the best-placed or only adult in a position to identify and respond to suspected abuse.

If indicators lead you to form a reasonable belief that a child is being abused, you must follow the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse.  These actions will support you to immediately report your suspicion to DHHS Child Protection, and/or to Victoria Police. 

See:  Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse (pdf - 642.03kb) Word version

As a school staff member, you play a critical role in protecting children from child abuse. In some cases you may be the best-placed or only adult in a child’s life who is in a position to identify and respond to signs that a:

  • child is being abused, or is at risk of abuse
  • school community member (including a school staff member) may be a perpetrator of child abuse.

Warning

These sections include explicit descriptions of abuse and may be distressing for some staff members.

If you need to talk to someone, it is recommended that you speak to your school leadership team about arranging appropriate support. You can also talk to your GP or another allied health professional.  Government school staff can also contact the Employee Assistance Program on 1300 361 008.

In this section:

This section will help you to understand the different types of abuse and recognise the possible physical and behavioural indicators of:

When identifying child abuse, it is critical to remember that:

  • the trauma associated with child abuse can significantly impact upon the wellbeing and development of a child
  • all concerns about the safety and wellbeing of a child, or the conduct of a staff member, contractor or volunteer must be acted upon as soon as practicable.

If physical and/or behavioural indicators lead you to suspect that a child has been or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse, you must respond as soon as practicable by following the Four Steps: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse.

If you believe that a student is not being abused, but you still hold concerns for their safety or wellbeing, refer to advice about responding to concerns about the wellbeing of a child (or unborn child) to determine who to consult with, when to make a report and when to engage other wellbeing professionals.

See: Responding to Other Concerns About the Wellbeing of a Child