INDICATORS OF CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT

Child abuse comes in many forms. Different types of abuse and neglect manifest as different physical and behavioral indicators.

Simply by listening and paying attention to a child’s behavior, much can be learned about a child’s personal experiences. These valuable insights may help you prevent a child from further abuse and harm.

As the Nation’s Voice for Children, American SPCC is speaking up and standing up against Child Abuse and Neglect. The following free educational resources are made possible through your support and contributions.

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#ITSTIME TO LEARN THE SIGNS

PHYSICAL ABUSE INDICATORS

UNEXPLAINED BRUISES AND WELTS:

  • On face, lips, mouth
  • On torso, back, buttocks, thighs
  • In various stages of healing
  • Cluster, forming regular patterns
  • Reflecting shape of article used to inflict (electric cord, belt buckle)
  • On several different surface areas
  • Regularly appear after absence, weekend or vacation

UNEXPLAINED BURNS:

  • Cigar, cigarette burns, especially on soles, palms, back or buttocks
  • Immersion burns (sock-like, glove-like doughnut shaped on buttocks or genitalia)
  • Patterned like electric burner, iron, etc.
  • Rope burns on arms, legs, neck or torso

UNEXPLAINED FRACTURES:

  • To skull, nose, facial structure
  • In various stages of healing
  • Multiple or spiral fractures

UNEXPLAINED LACERATIONS & ABRASIONS:

  • To mouth, lips, gums, eyes
  • To limbs and buttocks
  • To external genitalia

Behavioral Indicators of Physical Abuse

  • Wary of adult contact
  • Apprehensive when other children cry

BEHAVIORAL EXTREMES:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Withdrawal
  • Frightened of parents
  • Afraid to go home
  • Reports injury by parents

EMOTIONAL ABUSE INDICATORS

  • Habit disorders (sucking, biting, rocking, etc.)
  • Conduct disorders (antisocial, destructive, etc.)
  • Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, speech disorders, inhibition of play)

Behavioral Indicators of Emotional Abuse

OVERLY ADOPTIVE BEHAVIOR:

  • Inappropriately adult behavior
  • Inappropriately infant behavior

BEHAVIORAL EXTREMES:

  • Compliant, passive
  • Aggressive, demanding
Indications of Child Abuse and Neglect American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

CHILD NEGLECT INDICATORS

  • Consistent hunger, poor hygiene, inappropriate dress
  • Consistent lack of supervision, especially in dangerous activities or long periods
  • Constant fatigue or listlessness
  • Unattended physical problems or medical needs
  • Abandonment

Behavioral Indicators of Neglect

  • Begging, stealing food
  • Extended stays at school (early arrival and late departure)
  • Constantly falling asleep in class
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Delinquency (e.g. thefts)
  • States there is no caregiver

SEXUAL ABUSE INDICATORS

  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vaginal or anal areas
  • Venereal disease, especially in pre-teens
  • Pregnancy

Behavioral Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • Unwilling to change for gym or participate in PE
  • Withdrawn, fantasy or infantile behavior
  • Bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Poor peer-to-peer relationships
  • Delinquent or run away
  • Reports sexual assault by caregiver

Take the ACEs Quiz

Types of Child Abuse

Child Neglect

Child Neglect is Child Abuse - American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Physical Abuse

Physical-Child-Abuse-American-SPCC-The-Nation's-Voice-for-Children

Emotional Abuse

Emotional-Abuse-is-Child-Abuse-American-SPCC-The-Nation's-Voice-for-Children

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Child Abuse - American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Childhood Experiences

Adverse-Childhood-Experiences-ACEs Child Abuse American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is Child Abuse American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Trafficking & Exploitation

Trafficking and Child Exploitation American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

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Information Courtesy of the Department of Children and Families, NJ | 2014

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