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Signs of Child Abuse

What to do if you Suspect a Child is Being Abused

Child abuse comes in many forms. Whether physical, emotional, negligent or sexual, the sooner a young one gets help, the sooner they can heal. How can you spot child abuse? What can you do if you suspect child abuse?

Most children who are abused will have issues of trust and building relationships. They may feel worthless and have trouble regulating emotions. Some warning signs of child abuse can be specific to the abuse.

Let's start with physical abuse.

  • Frequent unexplained injuries and injuries that have a pattern (such as a hand or belt)
  • Fear of going home
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries- such as long sleeves on a hot day

Some warning signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Trouble sitting or walking
  • Inappropriate knowledge or interest in sex (according to age)
  • Strong effort to avoid a specific person without obvious reason
  • Runs away from home

What to look for in a child who is being emotionally abused:

  • Extreme behavior- whether passive or aggressive
  • Excessively withdrawn or fearful
  • Not attached to parent or caregiver
  • Acts inappropriately adult or inappropriately infantile

Signs that a child is being neglected:

  • Filthy clothes and poor overall hygiene
  • Untreated illness or injuries
  • Often left unsupervised, even in potentially dangerous situations
  • Lateness to school or frequently missing from school

With these points in mind, if you suspect a child is being abused it is absolutely critical that you get help and report the abuse. There are numerous hotlines, organizations and institutions that are ready to help. If a child confides in you and tells you of abuse here are some tips to keep in mind.

Keep calm! Avoid denial or other strong reactions. Allow the child to finish speaking. If they feel you are uncomfortable, they may stop speaking and feel they did something wrong.

Do not interrogate the child. Asking questions during their story can confuse them and they may find it difficult to continue.

Be reassuring. They need to know it was not their fault and they did nothing wrong. Be sure to let them know you are taking what they said seriously.

Few topics are as sad as the abuse of a child. It is imperative that we look out for these little ones. If it is in our power to help them, it is our responsibility to do so. We want all young ones to grow to be happy, healthy and productive members of society!

Signs of Child Abuse

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