Warning Signs: Who Abuses Children?

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Warning Signs: Who abuses children?

When we know the warning signs of potential abuse, we may be able to minimize or prevent abuse from happening.

“Warning sign” is really just another way of saying “opportunity for prevention” – a chance for caring adults to recognize a possible risk and to take action to protect children.

While everyone should be given the benefit of doubt regarding their intent, there are some behaviors by adults that could indicate a person has less than good intentions regarding a child.

Following are some general warning signs of an individual who may be seeking or involved in a predatory or abusive relationship with a child.

  • Discourages other adults from participating or monitoring activities.
  • Wants to be alone with children.
  • Prefers involvement with children more than with adults.
  • Seeks opportunities or has unsupervised access to children.
  • Thinks or acts as if the rules do not apply to them.
  • Uses bad language or tells dirty jokes to children.
  • Shows children pornography.
  • Abuses alcohol or drugs.
  • Has an addiction to the interent (pornography and/or cybersex).
  • Overly physical (eg. wrestling, tickling, hugging) with other people’s children.
  • Permits children to engage in activities the child’s parents would not allow.
  • Gives gifts to kids, particularly without parental permission.


From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse

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