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When children have been abused, there are various signs that you can look out for. These signs will vary depending on the nature of the abuse.

Signs of physical abuse
may include cuts, abrasions (scrapes), bruises, welts, sores, scars, head injuries, broken bones (such as broken ribs) and other signs of harsh beatings.

Signs of sexual abuse may include a girl or boy having a discharge from, and/or bruises, to the genital or anal area. He or she may also have a venereal disease (VD). Such a child is at risk for contracting AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. The sexually abused child may also become promiscuous or have difficulty in dealing with sexual intimacy in later life or may become clinically depressed or manifest other serious psychological problems.

Signs of emotional abuse may involve the child being very aggressive, unnaturally quiet or timid, or may be extremely shy. Such a child may have learning problems or may develop more slowly than most children of his or her age group. The child's behavior may include him or her appearing overly compliant, passive, undemanding; or appearing very anxious or depressed. The child may also attempt suicide; or avoid doing things with other children. He or she may behave younger than his or her age; and may find it difficult to make friends. The child might also seem extremely aggressive, demanding or enraged and lags in physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Sometimes, the child may also seem very demanding or very obedient, and behaves very adult-like, while at other times the child may act very childlike and exhibit very childlike actions such as wetting or soiling the bed.

Signs of neglect may include the neglected child
  • Being abandoned or appearing malnourished
  • Exhibiting a vacant stare
  • Having frequent illnesses and usually being left alone to wander and beg
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs
  • Begging for or stealing food
  • Being consistently dirty, unwashed, hungry, or inappropriately dressed
  • Being constantly tired or listless
  • Engaging in dangerous activities and delinquent acts
  • Having unattended physical problems or lacking routine medical care
  • Having been abandoned or being without supervision for extended periods of time

Some other signs of child abuse are poor attendance at school, aggression, hyperactivity, little capacity for joy, shyness, poor self-concept, wariness of physical contact, and a decrease in academic performance. Children, who are abused or neglected, may also frequently express a desire to end his or her life.
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Trevesa DaSilva © 2003