Abuse Indicators

It is important for you to know how to recognize child abuse. Each type of child abuse has behavioral and physical indicators.

Emotional Abuse:

Continual attitude or acts, which interfere with a child's psychological or social development.

Emotional Abuse Physical Indicators:

  • Eating disorders
  • Speech disorders, such as stuttering
  • Weight or height significantly below the norm
  • Flat or bald spot on infant's head
  • Nervous disorders such as hives, rashes, facial tics, or stomachaches

Emotional Abuse Behavorial Indicators:

  • Habit disorders, such as biting, rocking, head banging
  • Regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking, "baby talk", etc.
  • Poor relations with peers
  • Self-isolation
  • Cruel behavior to other children or animals
  • Substance abuse, excessive risk taking, suicide attempts, prostitution, delinquency
  • Fire setting

Physical Abuse:

Act that results in non-accidental injury or threat of harm to a child.

Physical Abuse Physical Indicators:

  • Unexplained, chronic or repeated brusing
  • Unexplained burns
  • Other unexplained or repeated injuries

Physical Abuse - Behavioral Indicators:

  • Behavioral extremes (withdrawal, aggression, regression)
  • Excessive fear of the parent or caregiver
  • Unusual shyness, wariness of physical contact
  • Attempt to hide injuries
  • Depression, excessive crying
  • Antisocial behavior, such as substance abuse, truancy, or running away

Sexual Abuse:

Any sexually natured act upon or with a child.

Sexual Abuse - Physical Indicators:

  • Somatic complaints, including pain and irritation of the genitals
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy
  • Bruises or bleeding from external genital, vagina or anal region
  • Genital discharge
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothes
  • Frequent, unexplained sore throats, yeast or urinary infections

Sexual Abuse - Behavioral Indicators:

  • Poor peer relationships, inability to relate to children of same age
  • Regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking, bedwetting, fear of the dark
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Promiscuity, seductive behavior, or prostitution
  • Aggression or delinquency
  • Truancy or chronic running away
  • Substance Abuse
  • Relunctance to participate in recreational activity
  • Recurrent nightmares, disturbed sleep patterns, or fear of the dark
  • Sudden decline in school performance
  • In young children, preoccupation with sexual organs (his/her, parents', or other children's)