Signs in Children



    • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
    • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
    • Has a sudden change in eating habits
    • Refuses to eat
    • Loses or drastically increases appetite
    • Has trouble swallowing.
    • trouble falling or staying asleep, sleeping at unusual times of day, or sleeping for longer or shorter than usual.
    • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
    • Indirectly says things that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
    • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
    • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
    • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
    • Talks about a new older friend
    • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
    • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
    • Exhibits adult-like sexual knowledge:
      1. child may hate own genitals or demand privacy in an aggressive manner.
      2. child may think of all relationships in a sexual manner.
      3. child may dislike being his/her own gender.
      4. child may use inappropriate language continuously in his or her vocabulary or may use socially unacceptable slang.
      5. child may carry out sexualised play (simulating sex with other children).
      6. Unwarranted curiosity towards sexual act like visiting adult sites or watching adult images or content.
    • Sometimes when the aggressor shares the same household, or is a relative, the child shows reluctance to go home
    • Low self esteem
    • Wears many layered clothes regardless of the weather
    • Poor peer relations
    • Poor school performances


Usually there will be no physical signs. Sometimes there are stark warnings if a girl child gets pregnant. Otherwise, here are some signs that you can look out for:

  1. Pain, discolouration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
  2. Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
  3. Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
  4. Difficulty in walking or sitting
  5. Repeated unusual injuries
  6. Frequent yeast infections

For specific signs common in younger children, read here. For specific signs exhibited by adolescents, read here.

Sometimes, you might be able to identify a child abuser. To find out about signs that might be present in a child abuser, read here.

For signs sometimes displayed by adults who have been abused, read here.

If you suspect a case of sexual abuse, please do not keep quiet but take action to stop it. Here is some information about how you can help.