Signs of Child Abuse

unhappy little girlWhat Are the Signs of Abuse?

Children who are abused might show physical signs or sudden changes in their behavior or school performance. These signs don't prove that children are being abused, but they could be a signal that the children or their families need help.

When children talk about being abused, take them seriously. Take steps to get help!

Signs of Physical Abuse

Frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, black eyes, or burns without adequate explanations.

  • Frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury.
  • Burns or bruises in unusual patterns that may indicate the use of an instrument or human bite, cigarette burns on any part of the body
  • Lack of reaction to pain.
  • Aggressive, disruptive, and destructive behavior.
  • Passive, withdrawn, and emotionless behavior.
  • Fear of going home or seeing parents.
  • Injuries that appear after a child has not been seen for several days.
  • Unreasonable clothing that may hide injuries to arms or legs.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Over compliance.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Severe depression, anxiety, or aggression.
  • Difficulty making friends or doing things with other children.
  • Lagging in physical, emotional, and intellectual development.
  • Caregiver who belittles the child, withholds love, and seems unconcerned about the child’s problems.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Physical signs of sexually transmitted diseases

  • Evidence of injury to the genital area.
  • Pregnancy in a young girl.
  • Difficulty in sitting or walking.
  • Extreme fear of being alone with adults of a certain sex.
  • Sexual comments, behaviors or play.
  • Knowledge of sexual relations beyond what is expected for a child’s age.
  • Sexual victimization of other children.

Signs of Neglect

  • Obvious malnourishment.
  • Lack of personal cleanliness.
  • Torn or dirty clothing.
  • Stealing or begging for food.
  • Child unattended for long periods of time.
  • Need for glasses, dental care, or other medical attention.
  • Frequent tardiness or absence from school.

Signs of Human Trafficking

  • Labor trafficking - parent or caregiver forcing a child into labor or services that are unhealthy or harmful to the child.
  • Sex trafficking - parent or caregiver receiving compensation for forcing a child to engage in prostitution or other sex acts.

How to Report Abuse

In Texas, you have two ways to report child abuse or neglect. [learn more]

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