Child Abuse: An Overview

Signs of Child Abuse

Some signs can indicate any form of child abuse:

Aggressive, disruptive, and sometimes illegal behavior; Anger and rage, or feelings of sadness or other symptoms of depression; Anxiety or fears, or flashbacks and nightmares; Broken bones or internal injuries; Burns; Changes in a child’s behavior or school performance; Constant hunger or thirst; Cuts and bruises; Dirty hair or skin, frequent diaper rash; Drug and alcohol abuse; Hard-to-believe stories about how accidents occurred; Lack of interest in surroundings; Lack of supervision; Passive or withdrawn behavior; Poor self-image; Sexual acting out; Self-destructive or self-abusive behavior, suicidal thoughts; School problems or failure; The child seems guarded and startles easily; The child loiters at school or friends’ houses; The child seems reluctant to go home.2,6,18

Child abuse is more likely to occur when any of the following exist in families:

An adult was abused as a child; An adult views a child as being different from the parent’s preconceived expectations; The parent perceives a child as having special needs; There is a crisis or series of crises; Parental depression or mental illness; Parental chronic physical illness; Physical abuse of the mother; Poor adherence to medical recommendation for children; Marked aggression among siblings; Extreme overprotection of child; Poverty; Having physical or behavioral traits that make the child especially difficult to care for; Other violence in the home; Alcohol or other drug abuse by parents or caretakers; Being a stepparent; Social isolation of the caretaker (the person feels that he or she has no support); Family stress due to job loss, financial burdens, illness, death, separation, or divorce.2,3,5,8,10

Child Abuse Introduction   |   Signs of Child Abuse
Child Abuse Statistics   |   It’s Under Reported
Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Abuse General
Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Child Sexual Abuse
Injuries to Children: Physical and Sexual Abuse
Effects of Child Abuse on Adults: Childhood Abuse
Effects of Child Abuse on Adults: Childhood Sexual Abuse
Definition of Physical Abuse   |   Signs of Physical Abuse
Definition of Sexual Abuse   |   Signs of Sexual Abuse
Definition of Child Neglect   |   Signs of Child Neglect
Definition of Emotional Abuse   |   Signs of Emotional Abuse
Abusers   |   Pedophiles
Child Physical Abuse and Corporal Punishment
Treatment for Child Abuse
Costs to Society
State Child Abuse Laws
Nationwide Crisis Line and Hotline Directory

Referring to this article:
“Child Abuse: An Overview” was written by C. J. Newton, MA, Learning Specialist and published in the Find (formerly Mental Health Journal in April, 2001.

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