40 Red Flags for Child Abuse

There is an abundance of signs and symptoms when a child is being abused. The child may feel ashamed, embarrassed, fearful, guilty, or confused. General red flags you should watch for:

– Frequent absences from school and other activities
– Depression, nervousness, clinginess, rebellious or defiant behavior
– Changes in school performance
– A child that’s angry, resentful, aggressive or exhibits a loss of self-confidence
– Attempts at running away
– Bed-wetting
– Poor appetite
– Suicide attempts
– Frightened of parents

Personally, I had frequent absences from school, depression, nervousness (I had irritable bowel syndrome until after I graduated high school); I would throw up every time I saw the school bus coming to pick me up. I threw up every morning during the entire first school year. Suicide attempts came when I was older (thirteen).

There are many forms of abuse; physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.

Some signs of physical abuse are:

– Unexplained injuries, bruising, fractures, welts, or burns
These are mostly found on the face, torso, thighs, back, or torso
– Injuries that do not match the explanation
– Impressions of belt buckles, or welts
– Injuries in various stages of healing
– Rope burns on arms, legs, neck and torso

Signs of emotional abuse:

– Disorders such as biting, sucking (thumbs), rocking, picking, and nail biting
– Sleep disorders, bed-wetting, speech disorders and not wanting to play
– Seeks affection
– Headaches and stomach aches
– Refusal to go to school

Signs of sexual abuse:

– Difficulty walking or sitting
– Sexually transmitted diseases
– Irritation or pain in genital areas
– Withdrawal
– Torn clothing, or bloody underwear
– Pregnancy

Signs of Neglect:

– Lack of clothing, cleanliness, and lack of supplies to meet needs
– Poor health, poor growth or weight problems
– Absenteeism from school
– Hiding food, or over-eating
– Inappropriate mental swings
– Lack of medical and dental attention
– Stealing food or money

If the parent/s are the abuser you may see in them:

– Exhibits little concern for the child
– Denies any problems exist at home, or school
– Doesn’t recognize physical or emotional distress in the child
– Limits the child’s contact with others
– Blames and belittles the child using such terms as worthless, bad, or evil
– Uses very harsh discipline and ask teachers to do the same
– Demands excellent academic progress

This is not a full account of every sign or symptom of abuse. There are many more behaviors and disorders associated with abuse.

My personal signs of sexual abuse were an irritation to the genital area, frequent kidney, and urinary tract infections. I recall one day vividly, my mother was sorting the laundry and I was taking a bath. She screamed at me as she held a pair of my underwear in her hands, “You dirty little slut!” I was six years old at the time and was absolutely clueless as to why she was screaming at me.