Signs of Child Abuse

Signs of Potential Child Abuse

Unexplained Injuries

Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects.  You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.

Changes in Behavior.

Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or overly aggressive.

Age-inappropriate Behaviors.

Abused children often display inappropriate behaviors for their age, e.g., for older children, thumb-sucking, bedwetting, or fear of the dark; for younger children, addictive behaviors such as drinking as a pre-teen.

Fear of Going Home.

Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school to go home or about going places with the person who is abusing them.

Changes in Eating.

Stress, fear, and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.

Changes in Sleeping.

Abused children may have frequent nightmares or may appear tired or fatigued very often.

Changes in School Performance and Attendance.

Abused children may have difficulty concentrating and have excessive absences from school.  Oftentimes, these issues are due to adults trying to hide injuries or obvious neglect from authorities.

Lack of Personal Care or Hygiene.

It is common for abused and neglected children to appear uncared for, and they may be wearing unsuitable clothing for the weather, or unclear clothing.  They may have body odor resulting from poor habits of cleanliness in the family.

Illegal or Addictive Behaviors.

Young people being abused may engage in illegal activities or addictive behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.  They also may become bullies themselves as a protective reaction to being abused.

Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors.