Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse

Sad ChildThe Child

  • Extreme fear of undressing.
  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
  • Runs away from home.
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention.
  • Withdraws abruptly from an activity or club.
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen.
  • Lacks adult supervision.
  • Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn.
  • Comes to school/other activities early, stays late, does not want to go home.
  • Sudden fear to be alone with an unfamiliar person.
  • Expression of thoughts about death or suicide or display of suicidal actions.
  • Frequent unexplained health problems, bruises, or marks.
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs.
  • Sudden dependence on parents, and
  • Unusual interest in sexual matters.

The Parent

  • Shows little concern for the child.
  • Denies the existence of—or blames the child for—the child's problems in school or at home.
  • Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves.
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome.
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve.
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs.

Some information taken from the Child Welfare Information Gateway.