Do you know how a child who is being sexually abused will ask for help?

Do you know how a child who is being sexually abused will ask for help?

We often talk about the word ‘disclosure’ and it would be naïve to inhabit a space where waiting for a disclosure is the norm.

Children rarely verbally disclose what is happening to them.

There are many reasons why they won’t reach out in this way. Fear, shame, not knowing what is happening is wrong, not wanting to get in trouble…

We know that 1 in 4 students in a class is suffering some kind of abuse.

That is 25% of your class that may be harbouring deep, dark secrets.

But there are other ways that they share what is going on.

In a recent course Catherine Rushforth and I delivered, I spoke about tuning in to the subtle signals and calls for help that children share.

Hyper children and Hypo children

We all know our ‘Naughty children’ – our loud, out of control, annoying, bullying children. Perhaps they are the ones who have tantrums, are quick to fight, the ones who walk out of class etc. Our Hyper children.

And with some thought, we could probably recall our silent children, our middle of the roads, our ‘not very noteworthy’, and the ones we struggle to write about in reports and forget when making lists of our students. Our Hypo children.

Now, I’m not saying all of these children are being abused. But I am saying that these behaviours deviate from the norm and are worth investigating. Especially if these behaviours are new.

Our hyper children could be kicking out against something that they don’t understand, they could be pushing people away for fear of being found out, they could replaying the dreadful things that have happened to them over and over again in their heads.

And the hypo children could be hiding. Wanting to be left alone. They could too be replaying things in their heads and it takes them into a zoning out space.

All of our students need us to tune in. They need us to question their behaviours and report our findings to our safeguarding leads. Otherwise, if and when they choose to disclose, it could just be too late.


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