Signs of child abuse and neglect - Child Safety Services, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Queensland Government)

Error - Your browser does not support Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2, which is required to access this site.
All the latest versions of popular browsers support TLS 1.2, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Please upgrade your existing browser, or utilise an alternate browser to access this site.

Signs of child abuse and neglect

A child who has been, or may be experiencing abuse may show behavioural, emotional or physical signs of stress and abuse.

Some general indicators of child abuse include:

  • showing wariness and distrust of adults
  • rocking, sucking or biting excessively
  • bedwetting or soiling
  • demanding or aggressive behaviour
  • sleeping difficulties, often being tired and falling asleep
  • low self-esteem
  • difficulty relating to adults and peers
  • abusing alcohol or drugs
  • being seemingly accident prone
  • having broken bones or unexplained bruising, burns or welts in different stages of healing
  • being unable to explain an injury, or providing explanations that are inconsistent, vague or unbelievable
  • feeling suicidal or attempting suicide
  • having difficulty concentrating
  • being withdrawn or overly obedient
  • being reluctant to go home
  • creating stories, poems or artwork about abuse.

Some indicators of neglect include:

  • malnutrition, begging, stealing or hoarding food
  • poor hygiene, matted hair, dirty skin or body odour
  • unattended physical or medical problems
  • comments from a child that no one is home to provide care
  • being constantly tired
  • frequent lateness or absence from school
  • inappropriate clothing, especially inadequate clothing in winter
  • frequent illness, infections or sores
  • being left unsupervised for long periods.
Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.