Child Abuse Prevention: Signs of Child Abuse

April is officially Child Abuse Prevention month, and learning the signs of child abuse is at a forefront. Preventing children from being hurt or abused, however,  should be a daily concern. In 2010, the last year for which there is solid statistics available, approximately 695,000 children were victims of some type of child abuse, including physical abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse.  Every day, about five children die from child abuse in the United States. These deaths can be prevented, but it takes vigilance from those in the child’s life to recognize the signs of child abuse.

Signs of Child Abuse

Children who are being abused at home may exhibit many of these signs of child abuse, or very few. Each child is different, so those closest to the child would know best if something has changed in his or her behavior. Signs include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family. In many cases, abused children withdraw from those around them, preferring to spend more time alone. In some cases, they are trying to hide the physical evidence. In others, they are too ashamed, scared, or depressed to be around others.
  • Negative Changes in school work. If a child who is typically a good student starts to go downhill on assignments and in test scores, it may be a sign that something is going on at home.
  • Physical injuries that have not been seen by a doctor. All children fall, get bumps and bruises, and even broken bones from time to time. It’s part of childhood. If a child seems to be suffering from moderate to severe injuries, and the parents refuse to get them treated, however, it could be a red flag that something more serious is going on.
  • Child is left unattended. Neglect is a form of abuse in which children are often left unattended for unreasonable periods of time. Reasonable amounts of time vary depending on the child’s age. For example, it is perfectly legal and reasonable to allow a 15-year-old to go home alone for two hours after school. It is not reasonable to allow that same 15-year-old to stay home alone for a week. Children younger than 12 should not be left home alone at all.

Parents who are abusing their children also exhibit different signs of child abuse. Like with children, these can vary significantly depending on the person.

Signs that a parent may be abusing his or her children include:

  • Blaming the child. Parents who abuse their children often claim that the child is at fault for everything from lack of finances to poor performance at school.
  • Making statements about the child’s lack of worth. Calling a child worthless, saying he’s a bad kid, or declaring the child to be a burden on the family are all forms of psychological abuse.
  • Relies on the child as a source of happiness. On the flip side, some abusive parents completely rely on their child as their sole source of happiness. These parents rarely let their children have outside friends, don’t allow play dates, and often make the child feel guilty for not wanting to spend every moment with his parent.
  • Places extreme and unrealistic demands on the child. In some cases, abusive parents demand completely and constant perfection from their children. Kids may be enrolled in numerous sports or activities and subject to harsh punishments for not winning, or may be expected to maintain a perfect grade point average.

Learning to recognize signs of child abuse in children and their parents can help save lives. If you think a child in your life is being abused, please stand up and say something.

Photo credit: Google images: http://www.fanpop.com/spots/stop-child-abuse/images/8838822/title/child-abuse-photo

8 thoughts on “Child Abuse Prevention: Signs of Child Abuse”

  1. Danielle M. Ohlberg

    From my own experiences ANY type of abuse is detrimental to a child. I was adopted into a church going family, and was abused by my adoptive mother as far back as I can remember. The confusion, the complete breaking of a young childs spirit, hopes, dreams , is too horrendous to say. All of the hateful words, combined with the physical abuse and the everyday horrible fear is something you just don’t forget. People like to say to me, “Just put it all behind you and get on with your life” I realize that they mean well……..but the memories of what I was subject to, cannot just be forgotten. The scars are unnoticeable to a stranger……because all of the pain is in our head and in our minds. I am 53 years old and I still have so many issues because of the abuse…..but I work on them every day. Any person who hurts a child in any way is a sick individual. If you see it, report it. You just might save that young childs life.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful heads-up for all of us! Great tips, especially for spotting parents or others who may be struggling with inflicting abuse on children in their charge…this is such a widespread problem…parents are overwhelmed many times or come from a history of child abuse themselves.

    1. You are welcome Vivian! Parenthood is never easy. It can even tougher for some people with history as you mentionned

  3. Its important that people speak up and get services involved if they suspect abuse. The worst thing you can do is remain silent.

    1. I can’t imagine it myself. This is so sad but it happens. My son studied with a young little man who was abused by his father. This little man was living in foster care. He used to tell my son: You are lucky to have both your parents and live with them.

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