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Know the Signs

(Child Abuse and Neglect)

Millions of young people are abused, ignored, and mistreated by the adults responsible to create positive and healthy environments.

Child abuse are acts that result in serious harm or risk of harm, including physical violence, exploitation, and death. Failure to take action to stop the harm is also considered child abuse.

Child neglect is the failure to provide a child’s basic needs that range from providing clean clothing to medical care.

What are some common signs a child may be suffering abuse?

Physical signs

  • Visible and severe injuries, especially in infants. This includes bruises, sprains, and burns

  • Injuries varying in healing stages

  • Burn marks

  • Injuries difficult to explain

  • Timing of injuries and/or its frequency, such as during particular times of year or once a month

Behavioral signs

  • Behavior extremes, such as being overly compliant and passive or very demanding and aggressive

  • Increased avoidance or fear of a specific person or situation

  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping

  • Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings

  • Wears clothing that covers up arms, legs, and other parts of the body out of season

Sexual signs

  • Pain or itching in the genital area

  • Bruises or bleeding in and around the genital area

  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing

  • Sexually transmitted infections

  • Pregnancy

  • Knowledge or interest in sexual behaviors not age appropriate

Developmental signs

  • Failure to thrive socially or academically

  • Uncomfortable with physical contact with others

  • Slowed physical, emotional, or intellectual development

  • Learning disorders

  • Speech disorders

Psychological signs

  • Low self-esteem

  • Uncharacteristic obedience or perfectionism

  • Strong shame or guilt

  • Statements or behaviors that appear programmed

*Above information from 



It is difficult to know the scope of how much child abuse and neglect really affects one of the most vulnerable members of our communities. The harm many children face are not recognized or reported by adults.

  • 1 in 4 girls experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood. 1

  • 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood. 2

  • 91% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child or the child’s family knows. 2

  • The odds of attempting suicide are six times higher for men and nine times higher for women with a history of child abuse than those without a history of child sexual abuse. 3



1. Pereda, N., Guilera, G., Forns, M., & Gómez-Benito, J. (2009). The prevalence of child sexual abuse in community and student samples: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 328–338. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.02.007

2. Finkelhor, D., & Shattuck, A. (2012). Characteristics of crimes against juveniles. Durham, NH: Crimes Against Children Research Center. Retrieved from of%20Crimes%20against%20Juveniles_5-2-12.pdf

3. Bebbington, P. E., Cooper, C., Minot, S., Brugha, T. S., Jenkins, R., Meltzer, H., & Dennis, M. (2009). Suicide attempts, gender, and sexual abuse: Data from the 2000 British Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 1135-1140.


You are not alone.

There are resources available for you. 

National Child Abuse Hotline


National Domestic Violence Hotline


Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network


National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



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