Here are some of the most common signs of abuse. The signs and indicators of abuse and neglect may include, but are not limited to, those that follow. It is important to realize that the presence of any one indicator is not conclusive proof that a child has been abused. In most instances, abused children will exhibit a number of behavioral and physical indicators.
Neglect – physical and behavioral indicators can include:
- Consistent lack of supervision that puts children/youth in unsafe situations.
- Unsafe or hazardous living environment.
- Visibly unbathed or clothing is dirty, unwashed or inappropriate for the weather.
- Frequent absences from school with no explanation.
- Medical or health needs that are not attended to, e.g. dental work, lack of follow through for health or developmental needs.
Neglect can include situations where the child’s need for medical, mental, emotional, or developmental services and treatment are denied by the parent or caregiver, such as, dental decay, counselling support, medical treatment. (remember that sometimes families do not have the financial means or ability to access services and need assistance as opposed to a parent that denies and does not take their child to these services).
- Cannot recall how injuries occurred or offers an explanation that doesn’t fit.
- Wary of adults
- May cringe or flinch if touched unexpectedly.
- Infants may display a vacant stare.
- Extremely aggressive or extremely withdrawn.
- Extremely compliant and/or eager to please.
- Injuries that don’t fit the explanation.
- Presence of several injuries that are in various stages of healing.
- Presence of various injuries over a period of time
- Facial injuries in infants and preschool children
- Injuries inconsistent with the child’s age and developmental phase
- Severe depression.
- Extreme withdrawal or aggressiveness.
- Overly compliant, too well mannered, too neat or clean.
- Extreme attention seeking.
- Displays extreme inhibition in play.
- Bed wetting that is non-medical
- Frequent psychosomatic complaints, headaches, nausea, abdominal pains
- Child fails to thrive.
- Age-inappropriate play of a sexual nature with toys, self or others
- Age inappropriate sexually explicit drawing and/or descriptions
- Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge
- Seductive behaviors
- Unusual or excessive itching in the genital or anal area.
- Torn, stained, or bloody underwear.
- Injuries to the genital or anal areas, e.g. bruising, swelling, or infection.
- Sexually transmitted disease.