Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect

Physical Abuse:

Infliction of physical injury or allowing another to do so.


Physical Indicators:                                           Behavioral Indicators:

Unexplained bruises                                              Verbally reports abuse

Unexplained welts                                                  Too eager to please

Unexplained burns                                                 Depression

Unexplained lumps                                                 Low self-esteem

Unexplained bumps                                               Behavioral extremes 

Unexplained fractures                                            Role reversal 

Unexplained lacerations or abrasions                    Developmental lags

Hemorrhages                                                         Appears frigtened of caretaker

Burns by cigarettes                                                Apprehensive children cry

Burns by immersion                                               Exaggerated startle response 

Dental/oral injuries                                                School absenteeism


Behavioral Indicators of Caretaker:

Harsh disciplinarian, describes child in a consistently negative manner, defensive, conceals or misleads about child's injuries, substance abuser.


If you suspect a child is suffering from physical abuse, report it to Child Protective Services. 




Chronic failure to meet basic needs of a child for food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education or supervision. 


Physical Indicators:                                                Behavioral Indicators:

Flat, bald spots on infant's head                                Listless

Dirty, smelly, torn, dirty or                                          Begging/stealing food

inappropriate clothing for the weather                       Constant fatigue

Developmental lags                                                   Alcohol or drug use

Underweight                                                              Reports being left alone


Behavioral Indicators of Caretaker:

Substance abuser, chaotic life style, apathetic, expects too much of child.



Sexual Abuse:  

Utilization of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or older child in a position of power, or permitting another person to do so. If you suspect a child is suffering from sexual abuse, report it to Child Protective Services. 


Physical Indicators:                                                   Behavioral Indicators: 

Any venereal disease                                                   Aggressive, overt sexual behavior 

Bruised/dilated genitals or rectum                                Drawing pictures of people with

Pregnancy under 16 years of age                                genitals or vagina 

Difficulty/pain in walking or sitting                                 Cruelty to animals without 

Foreign matter in bladder, rectum                                 physiological basis 

or urethra                                                                      Pre-mature knowledge of explicit 

Pelvic inflammatory disease                                          sexual acts

Torn, stained or bloody underclothing                          Sleep disorders 

Recurrent urinary tract infections                                 Taking frequent baths 

                                                                                     Starting fires

                                                                                     Self-inflicted injuries

                                                                                     Expresses fear of a particular

                                                                                     person or place


Behavioral Indicators of Caretaker:

Extremely protective of family privacy, does not allow child to be involved in extra-curricular activities, does not want child to engage in developmentally appropriate activities i.e. dating, encourages child into prostitution, substance abuser.



Emotional Maltreatment:  

Emotional Neglect - Chronic failure by the caretaker to provide support and affection necessary to develop a sound and healthy personality.


Emotional Abuse - Chronic attitude or acts of a caretaker which are detrimental to the child's development of a sound and healthy personality.


Behavioral Indicators:  

Low self esteem

Difficulty forming positive relationships

Eating disorders

Elimination problems

Speech disorders

Inability to trust

Sleep problems

Sadistic, masochistic




Anxiety, fear

Developmental lags

Reports emotional maltreatment


Behavioral Indicators of Caretaker:

Rejecting, ignoring, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting. 


If you suspect a child is suffering from abuse, report it to Child Protective Services. 





Copyright © 2011 Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, A Division of The Villages. 


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