Types/signs and indicators, behavioral or physical issues

Child abuse and neglect can and does happen to anyone. It is important for every person to take child abuse and neglect seriously, to be able to recognize when it happens, and to know what to do next.

There are four types of child maltreatment:

  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse

Neglect is the failure to act on behalf of a child. It is an act of omission and is generally characterized in three categories:

  • Physical Neglect: Failure to meet the requirements basic to a child’s physical development, such as supervision, housing, clothing, medical attention, nutrition and support.
  • Emotional Neglect: Failure to provide the support and/or affection necessary for the child’s psychological and social development.
  • Educational Neglect: Failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs.

Note: Cultural standards of care in the community and poverty may be contributing factors indicating the family is in need of information or assistance/resources.

Indicators of Neglect:

Physical Indicators of Neglect:

  • Chronic uncleanliness or poor hygiene including lice, scabies, severe or untreated diaper rash
  • Untreated illness or injury
  • Unsuitable clothing, missing key articles of clothing such as socks, shoes, or a coat
  • Height and weight significantly below age level

Behavioral Indicators of Neglect:

  • Chronic hunger, tiredness or lethargy
  • Begging or collecting leftovers
  • Unusual school attendance (frequent or chronic absence)

Abuse represents an action against a child. It is an act of commission and is generally characterized in three categories:

Physical Abuse:The non-accidental injury to a child

Physical Indicators

  • Unexplained, chronic or repeated bruising
  • Unexplained burns
  • Other unexplained or repeated injuries

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Behavioral extremes (withdrawal, aggression,
  • regression)
  • Excessive fear of the parent or caregiver
  • Unusual shyness, wariness of physical contact
  • Attempt to hide injuries
  • Depression, excessive crying
  • Antisocial behavior, such as substance abuse,
  • truancy or running away
Sexual Abuse

Any act of a sexual nature upon or with a child. The act may be for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or a third party. This would, therefore, include not only anyone who actively participated in the activity, but anyone who allowed it. (Includes rape, touching, fondling, or involving a child in pornography).

Physical Indicators:

  • Somatic complaints, including pain and irritation of the genitals
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy
  • Bruises or bleeding from external genitals, vagina or anal region
  • Genital discharge
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothes
  • Frequent, unexplained sore throats, yeast or urinary infections

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Poor peer relationships, inability to relate to children
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Promiscuity or seductive behavior
  • Aggression or delinquency
  • Truancy or chronic running away
  • Prostitution
  • Substance abuse
  • Reluctance to participate in recreational activity
  • Recurrent nightmares, disturbed sleep patterns, or fear of the dark
  • Sudden decline in school performance
  • In young children, preoccupation with his/her sexual organs, his/her parents’ or other children’s
Emotional Abuse

Chronic or consistent attitude or acts, which interfere with the psychological and social development of a child. (Such as criticizing, insulting, rejecting or withholding love from a child).

Physical Indicators:

  • Eating Disorders
  • Speech disorders, such as stuttering
  • Weight or height significantly below the norm
  • Flat or bald spots on infant’s head
  • Nervous disorders such as hives, rashes, facial tics, or stomachaches

Behavioral Indicators:

  • Habit disorders, such as biting, rocking, head banging
  • Regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking, “baby talk” etc.
  • Poor relations with peers
  • Self-Isolation
  • Cruel behavior to other children or animals
  • Substance abuse, excessive risk taking, suicide attempts, prostitution, delinquency
  • Fire setting