Below are potential indicators of child abuse. They can include, but are not limited, to these signs. Some signs that a child is experiencing violence or abuse may be more obvious than others. Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities. You do not need proof.
Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shapes of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.
Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may occur.
The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.
Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.
Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
Young people who are being abused may engage in high risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.