Oranga Tamariki : Identify Abuse


You may be worried about the wellbeing of a child or young person, but feel unsure about whether to let someone know. Every family is different, and signs of neglect or abuse can be hard to categorise. It’s normal to feel uncertain. But if you notice a pattern forming, it could be that something is wrong.

Physical signs such as:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, cuts and abrasions
  • Unexplained fractures or dislocations
  • Burn marks

Other signs:

  • No clear explanation for any of the above
  • Behavioural concerns such as emotional withdrawal, aggression or anxiety
  • Developmental delays, changes or signs
  • The child talking about or subtly mentioning things that may indicate abuse
  • Parents seeming stressed or not coping on the money they have
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Parents not having friends or family to help
  • Adults hitting or yelling
  • Mental health problems
  • Children are left home alone or seem to be neglected
  • Children routinely not going to school


  • Is the child’s behaviour a sign of abuse or neglect, or are there other things going on in the family that could affect them?
  • How is the child’s behaviour?
  • How is the child’s development?
  • Has the child or family hinted at, or said that something is wrong?
  • Are there signs of family violence?
  • Do I sense the family is struggling, or the child is at risk in some way?

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