Signs of child abuse and neglect

Abuse and neglect may show up in physical or behavioral signs, some of which are listed here. In many instances there appears to be an unusual pattern or location of physical injuries that suggests abuse. Some of the signs listed may indicate problems that do not involve abuse or neglect. If you suspect abuse, report it to your county human or social services agency and let them make the determination.

Children's physical signs

  • Bruises, welts or broken bones
  • Burns
  • Missing hair
  • Poor hygiene
  • Injuries or redness around the genitals
  • Injuries at different stages of healing
  • Injury or medical condition that hasn't been properly treated
  • Slowed physical development

Children's behavioral signs

  • poor grades
  • lack of concentration
  • frequent tardiness or absence from school
  • difficulty making and keeping friends
  • unhappiness, depression
  • withdrawal from others
  • acts of anger, aggression
  • destruction of property
  • hurting themselves or others
  • low self-esteem
  • problems with expressing feelings
  • fatigue
  • constant attention seeking
  • speech problems
  • sleeping problems
  • reluctance to go home
  • hunger, begging for food, stealing
  • unusual fears
  • unusual knowledge of sex