The hidden signs of child abuse


by Staff

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 9:11 PM

(KMOV) -- While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle—rather than perpetuate it.

By learning about common signs of abuse and how to intervene could make a huge difference in a child’s life. 

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
  • Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive) or changes in behavior (Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.).
  • Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
  • Fears going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.
  • Changes in eating.  The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors leading to weight gain or loss.
  • Changes in sleeping.  Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep.  As a result they often appear tired or fatigued.
  • Risk-taking behaviors.  Young abuse victims may engage in high-risk activities including using drug or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
  • Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums).
  • Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
  • Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
  • Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
  • Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
  • Is frequently late or missing from school.
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
  • Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
  • Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.

Missouri Child Abuse Hotline  1-800-392-3738

Illinois Child Abuse Hotline  1-800-252-2873