Signs of Abuse and Neglect

signsofabusePhysical Abuse 

Physical Indicators

  • Unexplained injuries 
  • Unbelievable or inconsistent explanations of injuries 
  • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing 
  • Bruises located on faces, ears, necks, buttocks, backs, chests, thighs, back of legs, and genitalia 
  • Bruises that resemble objects such as a hand, fist, belt buckle, or rope 
  • Injuries that are inconsistent with a child's age/developmental level 
  • Burns

Behavioral Indicators

  • Fear of going home 
  • Extreme apprehensiveness/vigilance 
  • Pronounced aggression or passivity 
  • Flinches easily or avoids being touched 
  • Play includes abusive behavior or talk 
  • Unable to recall how injuries occurred or account of injuries is inconsistent with the nature of the injuries 
  • Fear of parent or caregiver
     

Sexual Abuse

Physical Indicators

  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Bedwetting 
  • Pain or irritation in genital/anal area
  • Difficulty walking or sitting 
  • Difficultly urinating
  • Pregnancy
  • Positive testing for sexually transmitted disease or HIV
  • Excessive or injurious masturbation

Behavioral Indicators

  • Sexually promiscuous
  • Developmental age-inappropriate sexual play and/or drawings
  • Cruelty to others
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Fire setting
  • Anxious
     

Mental Abuse

Physical Indicators

  • Frequent psychosomatic complaints (nausea, stomachache, headache, etc.)
  • Bed-wetting
  • Self-harm
  • Speech disorders

Behavioral Indicators

  • Expressing feelings of inadequacy
  • Fearful of trying new things
  • Overly compliant
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Excessive dependence on adults
  • Habit disorders (sucking, rocking, etc.)
  • Eating disorders
     

Neglect

Physical Indicators

  • Lack of adequate medical and dental care
  • Often hungry
  • Lack of shelter
  • Child's weight is significantly lower than what is normal for his/her age and gender
  • Developmental delays
  • Persistent (untreated) conditions (e.g. head lice, diaper rash)
  • Exposure to hazards (e.g., illegal drugs, rodent/insect infestation, mold)
  • Clothing that is dirty, inappropriate for the weather, too small or too large

Behavioral Indicators 

  • Not registered in school
  • Inadequate or inappropriate supervision
  • Poor impulse control
  • Frequently fatigued
  • “Parentified” behaviors