TIPS ON RECOGNIZING CHILD ABUSE
- Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance:
- Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention;
- Has learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes:
- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen;
- Lacks adult supervision;
- Is overly compliant, an overachiever, or too responsible; or
- Comes to school early, stays late, and does not want to go home.
- Shows little concern for the child, rarely responding to the school's request for information, for
conferences, or for home visits;
- Denies the existence of or blames the child for the child's problems in school or at home;
- Asks the classroom teacher to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves;
- Sees the child entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome;
- Demands perfection or a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve; or
- Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs.
The Parent and Child:
- Rarely touch or look at each other;
- Consider their relationship entirely negative; or
- State that they do not like each other.
Signs of physical abuse. Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the child:
- Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes;
- Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school;
- Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home from school;
- Shrinks at the approach of adults; or
- Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver.
Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:
- Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury;
- Describes the child as "evil," or in some other very negative way;
- Uses harsh physical discipline with the child; or
- Has a history of abuse as a child.
Signs of neglect. Consider the possibility of neglect when the child;
- Is frequently absent from school;
- Begs or steals food or money from classmates;
- Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses;
- Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor;
- Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather;
- Abuses alcohol or other drugs; or
- States that there is no one at home to provide care.
Consider the possibility of neglect when the parent or other adult caregiver:
- Appears to be indifferent to the child
- Seems apathetic or depressed;
- Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner; or
- Is abusing alcohol or other drugs.
Signs of sexual abuse. Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:
- Has difficulty walking or sitting;
- Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities;
- Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior;
- Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age fourteen;
- Runs away; or
- Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver.
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:
- Is unduly protective of the child, severely limits the child's contact with other children, especially
of the opposite sex;
- Is secretive and isolated; or
- Describes marital difficulties involving family power struggles or sexual relations.
Signs of emotional maltreatment. Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the
- Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity or aggression;
- Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile
(frequently rocking or head-banging, for example);
- Is delayed in physical or emotional development;
- Has attempted suicide; or
- Reports a lack of attachment to the parent.
Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the parent or other adult caregiver:
- Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child;
- Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child's school
- Overtly rejects the child.
Reprinted with permission of THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO PREVENT CHILD ABUSE
332 S. Michigan Avenue/ Suite 1600/ Chicago, Il 60604
Hot line: 1-800-55-NCPCA
Back / Kenneth D. Davis
Web Site Administrator
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Last modified 14 Feb 2003