Child abuse and neglect indicators

Physical neglect

Physical indicators

  • Unattended medical needs like dental, immunizations, glasses
  • Consistent lack of supervision
  • Consistent hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene
  • Lice, distended stomach, emaciated look
  • Significant weight change
  • Inappropriate clothing for weather

Behavioral indicators

  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class
  • Steals food, begs from classmates
  • Reports that no caretaker is home
  • Frequently absent or tardy
  • Self-destructive e.g. substance abuse
  • Extreme loneliness and need for affection

Physical abuse

Physical indicators

  • Injuries not common for age or activity level
  • Delayed or inappropriate treatment of injuries
  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing) and welts in groups, clusters or patterns or the shape of an object
  • Defense wounds on the back of the arms or hands
  • Human bite marks, bald spots
  • Burns such as cigarette burns, immersion burns (glove-like), contact burns
  • Unexplained fractures or abrasions
  • Bruising behind the ears

Behavioral indicators

  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Withdrawn or aggressive behavioral extremes
  • Uncomfortable with physical contact
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably
  • Wears clothing inappropriate for weather to cover body
  • Inconsistent or bizarre explanation of injuries
  • Wary of adults
  • Doesn’t want to go home
  • Chronic runaway

Sexual abuse

Physical indicators

  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothes
  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Bruises or bleeding in the external genitalia
  • Presence of a sexually transmitted disease
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Bruising, trauma, lesions in or around the mouth
  • Sudden massive weight change (loss or gain)

Behavioral indicators

  • Withdrawn or chronically depressed, suicidal
  • Overly concerned for siblings
  • Problems with peers
  • Hysteria, lack of emotional control
  • Sudden school difficulties
  • Threatened by physical contact or closeness
  • Exhibits inappropriate sex play or advanced sexual knowledge
  • Excessive seductiveness or promiscuity
  • Runs away
  • Nightmares and/or bedwetting

Emotional abuse

Physical indicators

  • Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical development
  • Increased severity in existing conditions, such as asthma, allergies or ulcers
  • Daytime anxiety and unrealistic fears, dreads or hatred

Behavioral indicators

  • Habit disorders (sucking, rocking)
  • Anti-social or destructive behavior, suicide
  • Neurotic  traits (sleep disorders, inhibition to play)
  • Passive or aggressive behavioral extremes
  • Delinquent behavior like substance abuse
  • Developmental delays
  • Inappropriately adult or infantile behavior
  • Lack of attachment to parent