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Signs that a Child is being Abused, and What Action you should take

separator It’s not uncommon for neighbors, teachers, friends, family members and healthcare providers to suspect that a child they know is being abused. These are some of the signs: 

  • Broken bones or internal injuries
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Burns
  • Constant hunger or thirst
  • Lack of interest in what’s going on around him or her
  • Lack of supervision
  • Pain, bruising or bleeding in the genitals
  • Knowing more about sex than children usually do
  • Strange explanations for how accidents happened
  • Dirty hair or skin, frequent diaper rash

Additionally, abused children are often very shy. They may be fearful of certain adults or certain places. 

If you suspect that a child you know is being abused, report the situation to a local, county or state child protection agency. Remember, the goal of reporting suspected abuse is to: 

  • Stop the abuse
  • Get needed services to the family
  • Help the family become loving and a safe place to raise the child

There are many resources available to parents who are abusing their children, ranging from 

The child’s doctor, who can explain what children need at all the different stages of their lives. The doctor can also recommend further programs that can be of help to parents. 

Local health and social services agencies, where parents can attend parenting classes. They can also talk with social service workers who can lead parents to resources when they’re under financial strain. 

Hospitals and community centers, which often offer classes on stress reduction, nutrition, parenting, discipline and nutrition. 

Psychologists, social workers and counselors, who can help parents deal with anger, addiction, stress and previous abuse in their own childhoods. 

Religious groups, which can help parents obtain food, shelter and counseling.

American Psychological Association; ChildhelpUSA, Inc.; H. Kaplan, B. Sadock, J. Grebb, Synopsis of Psychiatry, Williams and Wilkins, 1994; M. Sullivan, Clinical Psychiatry News, Spiritualized Therapy May Lessen Symptoms in Sex Abuse Survivors, March 2005.
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