Child Abuse – Symptoms


Here is a list of some of the Symptoms of Child Abuse:

1. Dramatic change in behavior. If a child who is normally outgoing becomes withdrawn, or a quiet child becomes loud and aggressive, that child may be experiencing child abuse. A normally bright child may become unresponsive, or a calm child becomes frightened or jittery. It is the change that may signal that the child is being abused.

2. Observable injuries. These are easiest signs to spot: burns, bruises, broken bones, bite marks, swelling and discolorations of the skin. If you notice these on a child, ASK them about it. It is polite in our society to ask. Does the answer seem plausible? If not, further investigation may be needed.

3. Fear of their abuser. All abused children have one universal symptom. They will be AFRAID of their abuser. They may become fearful of a parent, relative, neighbor, teacher or caregiver. My abuser used a carving knife to scare me and keep me from telling my parents.

4. Defensive stance. An abused child may avoid physical contact with others. They may hold their arms or hands in front of their body, as though someone might suddenly hurt them. They may also shy away from being touched by anyone. They may flinch at sudden movements, appearing watchful and alert, as if waiting for something bad to happen

5. Return to earlier behaviors.  These include thumb sucking, demanding a pacifier, soiling themselves, wetting the bed, fear of the dark or strangers, loss of acquired language, stuttering or memory problems. Have a serious talk with your child if you notice these symptoms.

6. Lack of personal hygiene shows neglect. A child may look like their parents forgot to give them a bath or change their clothes. This may or may not be linked to abuse, but it is neglect. The other possibility is that the child is purposely trying to look unattractive to ward off an abuser.

7. Poor School Attendence. Children may come to school early or stay late, in order to avoid an abusive parent. They may seem preoccupied and their grades suddenly plummet.

8. Risk-taking behaviors. If a child no longer feels safe and his self esteem has been taken away, he or she may have no reason to be careful. The child may run across the street without looking or jump off the top of the jungle gym. This can be a silent cry for help.

SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE MAY INCLUDE:  

1. Difficulty walking or sitting.

2. Torn clothing and/or bloody underwear. A child with this symptom should be examined by a doctor to verify injuries

3. Pain and itching in the genital area.

4. Inappropriate sexual behavior. An abused child may attempt to victimize a peer or a younger family member.

5. Explicit language. A young child who suddenly spouts sexual language may have heard it during abuse by an older person.

Signs courtesy of Dreamcatcherforabusedchildren.com, The Joyful Heart Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Centers, and childhelp.org.

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