1. Changes in behaviour

Abuse can lead to many changes in behaviour. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.

2. Returning to earlier behaviours

Abused children may display behaviours shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or fear of strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.


Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them or exhibit an unusual fear of a familiar person or place.


The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviours, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.

5. Changes in sleeping

Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.

6. Changes in school performance & attendance

Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the child’s injuries from authorities.

7. Lack of personal care or hygiene

Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odour, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.

8. Risk-taking behaviours

Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.

Contact Us

Contact Details

Phone Number
9391 1900


George Jones Child Advocacy Centre
2 Wungong Road (Corner Church Ave)
Armadale WA 6112

9. Inappropriate sexual behaviours

Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualised behaviour or use explicit sexual language and may exhibit symptoms of a genital infection.

10. Unexplained injuries

Children who have been physically abused may exhibit unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.

Be aware that some children may show ALL or NONE of the signs below. Trust your instincts. Suspicion of abuse is enough of a reason to take action.