Signs of Abuse and Neglect

There are four main types of child abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.

A single sign does not necessarily mean that abuse and/or neglect is occurring. However, any of the signs below could be an indication that there is a greater risk to a child’s safety and/or wellbeing. If you are concerned about a child or youth, please call us at 613-747-7800. Learn more about your duty to report.

Physical AbuseWhen a child is injured or harmed by their caregiver, or when the caregiver fails to do something to protect the child.
  • Child wears long sleeves/long pants even in warm weather
  • Excessive crying
  • Whispered speech
  • Loss of appetite for no apparent reason, or excessive appetite
  • Abrupt decline in school performance
Sexual AbuseAny sexual exploitation of a child by a caregiver or someone else.
  • Constant sadness
  • Clinging
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Sudden fear of the dark
  • Bedwetting
Emotional AbuseWhen a caregiver treats a child in an extremely negative way that damages self-esteem and the concept of self.
  • Sudden change in self-confidence
  • Habit disorders (biting, rocking, head-banging)
  • Argumentative or consistent temper tantrums
  • Bullying tactics
  • Being easily frustrated
NeglectA pattern where a child’s caregiver fails to provide basic needs such as food, sleep, safety, supervision, appropriate clothing or medical treatment.
  • Over- or under-dressed for weather conditions
  • Consistent school absenteeism
  • Persistent hunger
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleepiness/always tired

*For more information about signs of abuse and neglect, visit the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies’ (OACAS) website.