Although these signs do not necessarily indicate that a child has been abused, they may help adults recognise that something is wrong. The possibility of abuse should be investigated if a child shows a number of these symptoms, or any of them to a marked degree.
Some people don’t report physical abuse of a child because they don’t know what type of behavior constitutes child physical abuse.
Physical abuse is the most visible form of abuse and may be defined as any act which results in a non-accidental trauma or physical injury. 19% of all substantiated cases of child abuse stem from physical abuse.
Inflicted physical injury most often represents unreasonable, severe corporal punishment or unjustifiable punishment. This usually happens when a frustrated or angry parent strikes, shakes or throws a child.
Physical abuse injuries result from punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child. While any of these injuries can occur accidentally when a child is at play, physical abuse should be suspected if the explanations do not fit the injury or if a pattern of frequency is apparent. The longer the abuse continues, the more serious the injuries to the child and the more difficult it is to eliminate the abusive behaviour.
Unexplained recurrent injuries or burns
Improbable excuses or refusal to explain injuries
Wearing clothes to cover injuries, even in hot weather
Refusal to undress for gym
Chronic running away
Fear of medical help or examination
Aggression towards others
Fear of physical contact – shrinking back if touched
Admitting that they are punished, but the punishment is excessive (such as a child being beaten every night to ‘make him study’)
Fear of suspected abuser being contacted
Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth. Emotional abuse includes excessive, aggressive or unreasonable demands that place expectations on a child beyond his or her capacity.
Constant criticizing, belittling, insulting, rejecting and teasing are some of the forms these verbal attacks can take. Emotional abuse also includes failure to provide the psychological nurturing necessary for a child’s psychological growth and development — providing no love, support or guidance.
Emotional Abuse Signs and Symptons
Physical, mental and emotional development lags
Sudden speech disorders
Continual self-depreciation (‘I’m stupid, ugly, worthless, etc’)
Overreaction to mistakes
Extreme fear of any new situation
Inappropriate response to pain (‘I deserve this’)
Neurotic behaviour (rocking, hair twisting, self-mutilation)
Extremes of passivity or aggression
Sexual abuse early Signs
Although these signs do not necessarily indicate that a child has been abused, they may help adults recognise that something is wrong. The possibility of abuse should be investigated if a child shows a number of these symptoms, or any of them to a marked degree:
Being overly affectionate or knowledgeable in a sexual way inappropriate to the child’s age
Medical problems such as chronic itching, pain in the genitals, venereal diseases
Other extreme reactions, such as depression, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, running away, overdoses, anorexia
Personality changes such as becoming insecure or clinging
Regressing to younger behaviour patterns such as thumb sucking or bringing out discarded cuddly toys
Sudden loss of appetite or compulsive eating
Being isolated or withdrawn
Inability to concentrate
Lack of trust or fear of someone they know well, such as not wanting to be alone with a babysitter or child minder
Starting to wet again, day or night/nightmares
Become worried about clothing being removed
Suddenly drawing sexually explicit pictures
Trying to be ‘ultra-good’ or perfect; overreacting to criticism