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Signs of Child Abuse

Physical Abuse Indicators

Locations of the Injury

Genital Area
Side of the Body
Back of the Hands

Bruises, Welts, Bites, Hair Loss
On the face, lips, torso, back, buttocks and thighs
Clustered bruises or welts that form a pattern
Injuries that regularly appear after a child has been absent
Human bite marks
Hair loss

Immersion Burns: Burns that have a sock-like or glove-like appearance or burns that are doughnut shaped on the buttock or genital area.
Burns that have a patterned appearance - from electric burner, iron or cigarettes

Head Injuries
Injury to the ear, cheeks, temple or bony skull area
Bleeding around the ear, cuts or swollen ear
Lips tears, cuts, scrapes, or burns on the lips
Broken teeth or cuts on the tongue
Facial fractures
Two black eyes
Bleeding in the upper eyelid
Physically abused children will not only have physical signs of abuse, but many times these physical signs will be accompanied by behavioral and emotional signs. It is important to remember that none of the indicators listed below is a definite sign that a child is being physically abused. Instead, you should think of them as red flags, a sign that something in the child's life has created enough stress to change their behavior. A history of suspicious injuries should be considered in determining whether you should make a report of abuse to the Department of Social Services.

Behavioral and Emotional Indicators of Physical Abuse and Neglect
Child wears clothing that is not appropriate for the weather
Excessive absences at school
Fearful of parents or other adults
Apprehensive when other children cry
Extreme aggressiveness
Cognitive and intellectual impairment
Deficits in speech and language
Hyperactivity, impulsivity and low frustration tolerance
Depression, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies
Constantly tired or unable to stay awake

Sexual Abuse Indicators

Physical Indicators
Children who have been sexually abused may not have any physical signs of the abuse. Even if you notice one or some of the physical indicators listed below, this does not prove that the child has been sexually abused.
Unexplained Abdominal pain
Difficulty walking or sitting
Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
Pain, swelling or itching in the genital area
Bruises, bleeding or lacerations of the external genitalia, vagina or anal areas
Vaginal or penile discharge
Semen around the genitals or on undergarments
Pain when urinating
Sexually transmitted diseases: gonorrhea, syphilis, herles, genitalis or venereal warts
Pregnancy, especially in early adolescence

Behavioral and Emotional Indicators
Like the physical indicators of sexual abuse, emotional or behavioral indicators are not conclusive proof that a child has been sexually abused. The presence of one or more indicators should be a sign to look closer at the child and the child's environment.
Excessive masturbation
Sexual acting out
Knowledge of sexual matters inappropriate to age or development
Sexually abused a sibling, friend or younger child
Eating or sleeping disturbances
Eating or sleeping disturbance
Sudden drop in academic performance
Acting out or aggressive behavior
Regression of behavior
Appears frightened of adults, darkness or being left alone

Emotional Indicators

Emotionally abused children have several things in common: low self-esteem, feelings of guilt and the assumption that they are responsible for being unworthy of their parents' love, affection and attention.
Like physical and sexual abuse, none of the indicators listed below is proof that a child has been emotionally abused. However, the presence of one or more indicators should prompt you to take a closer look at the child and the child's environment.

Physical Indicators
Speech Disorders
Lags in Physical Development
Sallow, empty facial expression
Loss of bladder or bowel control

Behavioral and Emotional Indicators
Anxiety and unrealistic fears
Sleep problems, nightmares
Poor relations with peers
Disruptive, aggressive or passive behavior
Oppositional, defiant of authority
Overly compliant
Over controlled, rigid or overly impulsive
Depressed, isolated, withdrawn
Habit disorders such as biting, rocking, head banging, or thumb sucking in an older child

Child Neglect Indicators

Physical Neglect
Lack of a Safe Physical Environment
Lack of adequate shelter
Lack of heating in cold weather
Lack of adequate space for sleeping, eating, bathing
Unsanitary home conditions
Inadequate nutrition, clothing or hygiene care
Poor quality food, food that lacks nutritional value
Parent that is inadequate or inappropriate for the child's age and development
Clothing that is inadequate for the weather conditions
Clothing that is torn, not the right size, not regularly washed
Poor hygiene, child not bathed regularly
Inadequate Supervision
Leaving a young child alone or in charge of other children
Leaving a child with an inappropriate caregiver
Allowing a child to play in unsafe areas or without supervision
Abandonment of the child

Medical Neglect
Lack of treatment for medical problems, illnesses, trauma
Lack of care for special needs
Disregard for medical directions-prescriptions, appointments
Lack of immunization against disease
Teeth appear to be decaying or decayed
Frequent absences form child care or school due to illness

Inadequate Supervision
Leaving a young child alone or in charge of other children
Leaving a child with an inappropriate caregiver
Allowing a child to play in unsafe areas or without supervision
Abandonment of the child

Educational Neglect
School-age children not enrolled
Chronic truancy
Unwillingness to support child's education

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