What can you do

Learn the signs

Whether you are a relative, educator, social worker, or just a concerned adult, it is important to remember that children may be developmentally unable to protect themselves from skilled abusers. It is the responsibility of adults around children to protect them from harm.

Strive to become an expert in keeping children around you safe by learning preventive behaviour. Sometimes though, children may still be harmed by an opportunistic adult. Make sure that children around you know that they can trust you and depend on you for help. 

Read some common indicators of abuse below: 

Physical signs

  • Bruising, bleeding, swelling, tears or cuts on genitals or anus
  • An unusual vaginal odor or discharge
  • Torn, stained or bloody clothes especially underwear
  • Pain or itching in the genital area, difficulty going to the bathroom, walking or sitting
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, especially in pre-adolescent children
  • Pregnancy

Behavioural/Emotional Signs

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Change in school grades -studying/focusing more than usual or neglecting classwork/skipping school
  • Mood disorders, especially depression
  • Regressive behaviour, for example bed-wetting or thumb-sucking when it wasn’t an issue before>
  • Sudden development of fears, especially of specific people or places
  • Creating stories, poems or artwork about abuse
  • Sexual knowledge & behaviour inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Sexual aggression toward younger or smaller children. 
  • Self-harm or self-demeaning remarks
  • Eating disorders like bulimia/anorexia nervosa
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse.

It is never wise to jump to conclusions that every behavioural or physical change in a child is a sign of abuse, but it is important to consider the possibility.

Signs that an adult is sexually abusing a child

  • Refusal to give the child privacy or make their own decisions on personal matters.
  • Abnormal interest in child/teenager sexual development.
  • Pushing physical affection on a child ie: kissing, hugging, or wrestling when it’s obvious the child doesn’t want it.
  • Insisting on uninterrupted time alone with a child.
  • Buying child expensive gifts or giving them money for no reason.
  • Picking on a certain child.
  • Treating a certain child differently than others, treating them as their “favourite” or special.
  • Walking in on child/teenager in the bathroom.
  • Often offering to baby-sit or take child on overnight trips.

What if the signs are not very obvious? Read NSPCC's resource on what to do if you suspect abuse

Even concerned bystanders can protect children by learning to address boundary violations as discussed in the following presentation during ASCCSA 2015 by Darkness to light


Organize a training

To organise a training in Mumbai fill the form here

Seek help

If you, or someone you know has experienced child sexual abuse, and is seeking help, you may reach out to us. At HEAL we also offer long term psychotherapy based in Mumbai.  Our ability to respond to individual cases may get limited,  but we will try our best to put you in touch with the right professionals. 

If you represent an organisation and need help with making it safer for children, you may write to us at  projectheal.thefoundation@gmail.com 

Report abuse

Report child abuse to Child Welfare Committees in Mumbai here.
Report to National Commission for Child Protection Committee here or call 9868235077 or  1098 (Childline)
Report sexually implicit images online to Aarambh India's Hotline here.