Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

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Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

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Posted By DAM Firm | October 3 2022 | child abuse, Child Sexual Abuse

If you are a parent and allow another individual or entity to take care of your child, the last thing you expect is that your child will sustain any type of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, there are wrongdoers who fail to uphold their duty of care to a child. Here, we want to discuss the most common signs of child abuse and neglect that you need to be aware of if you are a parent or guardian. 

Signs of Child Abuse 

Child abuse can occur in many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, medical abuse, and neglect. It is crucial for parents, guardians, caretakers, and mandated reporters to understand the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect in a child.

First, it is important to point out that an abused child may be too afraid to tell anybody about what happened, especially if the abuser is someone close to them. Some of the main red flags for adults to look out for that could indicate child abuse include:

  • Withdrawing from usual activities
  • Changes in behavior and mood
  • Depression, anxiety, or sudden loss of self-confidence
  • Sleeping issues
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Self-harm behaviors or suicide attempts

Physical and Sexual Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Physical and sexual abuse often leaves signs on the body, but these may be underneath clothing and harder to detect. Some of the most common signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for that could indicate physical or sexual abuse include:

  • Unexplained bruising, burns, or broken bones
  • Injuries that do not match the explanation
  • Injuries not compatible with the child’s developmental ability
  • Sexual knowledge that is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • The presence of sexually transmitted infections or a pregnancy
  • Bruising, bleeding, or pain around the genital or anal area
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior with other children

Emotional Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Emotional abuse can be harder to detect because this will not necessarily leave any physical markings. However, paying close attention to how a child acts could uncover the following signs and symptoms of emotional abuse:

  • Delayed emotional development
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence
  • Withdrawal from social activities and friends
  • Signs of depression or anxiety
  • Avoidance behaviors, including refusing to ride the bus or go with a parent or adult
  • Deliberately seeking affection
  • Decrease in performance at school
  • Loss of previously developed social skills

Neglect Signs and Symptoms

Neglect may not necessarily involve physical abuse or emotional abuse, but it is often a side effect or in addition to those types of abuses. Sometimes, the signs of neglect are very visible, but other times they are not. Some of the most common signs and symptoms that could indicate neglect include:

  • Inappropriate growth for the child’s age
  • Excessive weight and medical complications that aren’t addressed properly
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Lack of supplies or clothing to meet physical needs
  • Stealing food
  • Poor school attendance
  • Lack of appropriate dental, medical, or psychological attention

Parental Behavior

For mandated reporters, including doctors, teachers, therapists, and others, the behavior of a parent could send a red flag about possible abuse. This includes the parent showing little concern for the child or even blaming the child for their own problems. Parents who constantly belittle or berate their children are another sign that there may be emotional abuse. Parents who significantly limit their child’s contact with others or who answer questions for their child and do not allow their child to speak should be questioned further about any signs and symptoms of abuse.

Child abuse and neglect can also happen at school, daycare, sports clubs, and in church. If you suspect abuse or you yourself were a victim, please contact our attorneys.

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