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Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Child Custody, Family Law |

The topic of child abuse and neglect are sensitive subjects that are never taken lightly. Making an accusation of abuse on a parent when it is not true may reflect poorly on the parent that made the claim. This is not to say if you or another adult sees a sign or child abuse, or neglect should be overlooked or ignored. Knowing the signs of abuse and proving to be a safe confidant to the child is a step in bringing a child into safety.

Here are some signs to look for.

Signs of Emotional abuse

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong
  • Extreme behaviors such as being extremely compliant, demanding, passive, aggressive
  • Not really attached to the parent or caregiver
  • Acting inappropriately like an adult such as caring for children or acting infantile by thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums

Signs of Physical abuse

  • Frequent injuries, unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts
    • Possible patterns and marks from objects other than hand
  • A very observant or continues “high alert” state of being
  • Shy or fear of touch, sudden movements, or fear of going home
  • Wearing layered or long clothing during hot weather to hide injuries

Signs of Sexual abuse

  • Having trouble or complaining of pain, discomfort while walking or sitting
  • Displaying knowledge of sexual acts or seductive behavior that is inappropriate for their age
  • Making vast efforts of avoiding someone without an obvious reason
  • Not wanting to change clothes in front of anyone
  • Not wanting to participate in physical activity
  • Under the age of 14 with a STD or pregnancy
  • Attempting to run away

Signs of Neglect

  • Wearing clothes that does not fit, or not dressing for the weather
  • Consistent poor hygiene such as being unbathed, matted or unwashed hair, noticeable body odor
  • Untreated illnesses and physical injuries
  • Frequently unsupervised, left alone, or being allowed to play in unsafe situations
  • Frequent tardiness and or absences



Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. “Child Abuse and Neglect”  Feb 24, 2023.