Signs of Neglect or Abuse
A child might be potentially experiencing physical abuse if he or she:
- Has frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts or cuts or explanation is incongruent to the injury
- Has injuries that appear to have a pattern such as marks form a hand or a belt
- Attempts to hide body parts that previously were exposed without concern (arms, legs, neck, etc.
- Has unusual, unexplained burn marks, bite marks, broken bones
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or is afraid to go home.
A child might be potentially neglected if he or she:
- Has untreated illnesses or physical injuries that present a significant risk to the child if left untreated.
- Experiences a lack of adequate or appropriate supervision (taking into account the age and capabilities of the child)
- Has been abandoned
- Experiences parental/caretaker substance abuse or use or mental illness that interferes with ability to provide appropriate care and supervision of the child
- Experiences deprivation of food, shelter or clothing
A child might be potentially experiencing sexual abuse if he or she:
- Has a sexually transmitted disease
- Demonstrates sexualized behavior that is not age appropriate and/or is highly overt or repetitive
- Is withdrawn or isolates self
- Frequently runs away from home
- Is abnormally secretive and socially isolated
- Experiences unexplained painful urination or defecation
- Has unexplained change in behavior (aggressive, withdrawn, self-destructive)
A child might be potentially showing the signs of mental injury if he or she:
- Is excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong
- Demonstrates extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive)
- Does not seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver
- Demonstrates a noticeable decline in cognitive abilities
If you suspect abuse, make the call to your local department of social services. It is the job of the department to make a determination of abuse.