Child abuse is such a painful subject that it is easy for the child to get lost. Unconsciously, trying to avoid the pain, workers get enmeshed in policy meetings, endless re-drafting of procedures and turgid discussions concerning criteria for registration. Inquiry reports have emphasized how professionals have been diverted from their main task of protecting children. Children can also be abused by poverty, poor housing, inadequate health facilities and attitudes of racism, sexism and classism. It is not easy therefore to discover to what extent the long-term difficulties displayed by a child are due to an identified act of abuse or to the insidious effects of the child's situation and environment. There are children who have learnt to cope by being negative, aggressive and action-orientated, always on the go with manic activity. These children often have short attention spans and an exceptionally low tolerance of frustration.