Although children find it very difficult to tell us about the harm they are experiencing they may show other emotional, behavioural and physical signs of their abuse. It is vital that professionals have the knowledge, skills and confidence to recognise when children might be showing them that something is wrong, as well as the potential indicators of sexually abusive behaviour in those who may be abusing them. In addition, there are some factors within the family or environment which can increase opportunities for abuse to occur, understanding what these are will enable us to reduce risks and build strengths when we are concerned.
The CSA Centre’s new Signs and Indicators Template helps professionals to gather the wider signs and indicators of sexual abuse and build a picture of their concerns.
Signs and Indicators: A template for identifying and responding to concerns of child sexual abuse
Research indicates that just one in three children who had been sexually abused by an adult told anyone. For those abused by another child this was even less, with five out of six not speaking to anyone.
There are many barriers to children sharing their experiences of sexual abuse. We know from research and data that it simply isn’t likely that a child will feel able to tell professionals directly what is happening or recognise that what is happening to them is abuse.
Using the Signs and Indicators Template professionals are able to note what they have observed directly into the template, using practical evidence-based guidance. The template is designed to provide a common language amongst professionals to discuss, record and share concerns that a child is being, or has been sexually abused.
Please note, the template is designed to inform practice, rather than determine, decision-making. The Signs and Indicators Template is not a risk assessment tool, substitute for further observation or for directly communicating with children and their families