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Tantrums, Being Clingy May Be 'Soft Signs' Of Child Abuse

Update Date: Feb 23, 2017 08:00 AM EST

Teachers, police officers, nursery staff and other professionals should be alert to abuse and neglect if a child displays the behaviours that are not normal for the child or for their age. Excessive clinginess, low self-esteem, recurrent nightmares or over-friendliness towards strangers are soft signs of child abuse according to new guidelines from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The Department for Education and the Department of Health asked NICE to produce the guidelines for professionals working with children particularly in settings such as social care, schools, early year's settings, medical centres or custodial settings.

Professionals should look out for signs such as, low self-esteem, wetting and soiling, recurrent nightmares, aggressive behaviour, withdrawing communication, habitual body rocking, indiscriminate contact or affection seeking, over-friendliness towards strangers, excessive clinginess and persistently seeking attention.

According to Daily Mail, NICE this does not mean parents will be summoned in whenever children have tantrums or appear very upset. Instead professionals are asked to build up a gradual picture of what is going on in a child's life to cause their sudden change of behaviour. Teachers are advised to try talking to the child themselves about why they are upset and then speak to parents.

Some signs are a matter of concern that require social services to be contacted right away. These include a child attending school with injuries, overtly sexual behaviours in children below the age of puberty, and parents using excessive physical punishment. Professionals are advised to use their instinct and experience to make a judgement.

Figures compiled by NSPCC charity showed there are more than 57,000 children in the UK who have been identified that need protection from abuse. One in 20 children in the UK has been sexually abused and 1 in 14 has been physically abused.

BBC reported Dr Danya Glaser, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and member of the NICE guideline development committee said there were more under-recognition of child abuse than over-reporting of cases which then turned out to be untrue.

A public consultation on the draft guidelines will run until April 19.

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