Child Abuse FactsChild abuse is harm to, or neglect of, a child by another person, whether adult or child. Child abuse happens in all cultural, ethnic, and income groups. Child abuse can be physical, emotional - verbal, sexual or through neglect. Abuse may cause serious injury to the child and may even result in death.
Signs of possible abuse include:
- Unexplained or repeated injuries such as welts, bruises, or burns.
- Injuries that are in the shape of an object (belt buckle, electric cord, etc.)
- Injuries not likely to happen given the age or ability of the child. For example, broken bones in a child too young to walk or climb.
- Disagreement between the child's and the parent's explanation of the injury.
- Unreasonable explanation of the injury.
- Obvious neglect of the child (dirty, undernourished, inappropriate clothes for the weather, lack of medical or dental care).
- Fearful behavior.
Emotional - Verbal Abuse
- Aggressive or withdrawn behavior.
- Shying away from physical contact with parents or adults.
- Afraid to go home.
- Child tells you he/she was sexually mistreated.
- Child has physical signs such as:
- difficulty in walking or sitting.
- stained or bloody underwear.
- genital or rectal pain, itching, swelling, redness, or discharge
- bruises or other injuries in the genital or rectal area.
- Child has behavioral and emotional signs such as:
- difficulty eating or sleeping.
- soiling or wetting pants or bed after being potty trained.
- acting like a much younger child.
- excessive crying or sadness.
- withdrawing from activities and others.
- talking about or acting out sexual acts beyond normal sex play for age.
- Families who are isolated and have no friends, relatives, church or other support systems.
- Parents who tell you they were abused as children.
- Families who are often in crisis (have money problems, move often).
- Parents who abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Parents who are very critical of their child.
- Parents who are very rigid in disciplining their child.
- Parents who show too much or too little concern for their child.
- Parents who feel they have a difficult child.
- Parents who are under a lot of stress.
- Take the child to a quiet, private area.
- Gently encourage the child to give you enough information to evaluate whether abuse may have occurred.
- Remain calm so as not to upset the child.
- If the child reveals the abuse, reassure him/her that you believe him/her, that he/she is right to tell you, and that he/she is not bad.
- Tell the child you are going to talk to persons who can help him/her.
- Return the child to the group (if appropriate).
- Record all information.
- Immediately report the suspected abuse to the proper local authorities. In most states, reporting suspected abuse is required by law.
Dealing with child abuse is emotionally difficult for a provider. As a child care provider, you should get training in recognizing and reporting child abuse before you are confronted with a suspected case. If you suspect a case of child abuse, you may need to seek support from your local health department, child support services department, or other sources within your area.
*reproduced from a CDC guide to intentional injuries.