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

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