Child Abuse - What to Look For

Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children. The United States loses five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.

Should you suspect a child is a victim of child abuse please call 1-800-342-3720. If you suspect a child is in immediate danger please call 911 or your local police department

Click here for the New York State Child Protective Services Home Page

The list that follows contains some common indicators of abuse or maltreatment. This list is not all-inclusive, and some abused or maltreated children may not show any of these symptoms.

Indicators of Physical Abuse can include:

  • Injuries to the eyes or both sides of the head or body (accidental injuries typically only affect one side of the body);
  • Frequently appearing injuries such as bruises, cuts and/or burns, especially if the child is unable to provide an adequate explanation of the cause. These may appear in distinctive patterns such as grab marks, human bite marks, cigarette burns or impressions of other instruments;
  • Destructive, aggressive or disruptive behavior;
  • Passive, withdrawn or emotionless behavior; and
  • Fear of going home or fear of parent(s).

Indicators of Sexual Abuse can include:

  • Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Injury to genital area;
  • Difficulty and/or pain when sitting or walking;
  • Sexually suggestive, inappropriate or promiscuous behavior or verbalization;
  • Expressing age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual relations; and
  • Sexual victimization of other children.

Indicators of Maltreatment can include:

  • Obvious malnourishment, listlessness or fatigue;
  • Stealing or begging for food;
  • Lack of personal care – poor personal hygiene, torn and/or dirty clothes;
  • Untreated need for glasses, dental care or other medical attention;
  • Frequent absence from or tardiness to school; and
  • Child inappropriately left unattended or without supervision.
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