How do I recognize abuse?

Child abuse cuts across all social classes and ethnicity and can occur in many different ways.  There are four major types of child abuse: physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. The first step in helping a neglected or abused child is to identify the signs and symptoms of abuse.

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Bruises, burn, abrasions, laceration, or swelling caused by other than accidental means
  • Belt buckle marks, hand prints, bite marks, and pinches
  • Child states injury was caused by abuse
  • Injury unusual for a specific age group
  • A history of previous or recurrent injuries
  • Unexplained injuries; conflicting explanations or reasons for the injury
  • Child excessively passive, compliant or fearful
  • Caretaker attempts to hide injuries

Warning Signs of Neglect

  • Child is lacking adequate medical or dental care
  • Child is always sleepy and/or hungry
  • Child is always dirty or inadequately dressed for weather conditions
  • There is evidence of poor supervision
  • Conditions in the home are extremely or persistently unsafe or unsanitary

In combination with the above warning signs, there must also include circumstances where the child is at substantial risk of suffering serious physical harm or illness. Absent the substantial risk of suffering physical harm or illness, a parent’s economic disadvantage does not meet the definition of general neglect.

Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Child exhibits extremes in behavior from overly aggressive to overly passive
  • Child displays delayed physical, emotional, or intellectual development
  • Caretaker constantly criticizes, threatens, belittles or rejects child with no evidence of love or support

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Pain, bleeding, redness, or swelling in anal or genital area
  • Age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self, or others
  • Age-inappropriate knowledge of sex