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Child Abuse Indicators

A child’s safety is every adult’s job. Look for these main
indicators of each type of child abuse:

Physical Abuse or Neglect
Physical Indicators

  • unexplained bruises, burns, fractures, or abrasions (often in
    various stages of healing)
  • marks that look like human hands or bites
  • consistent lack of adult supervision
  • consistent hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene, or
    unattended medical needs

Behavioral Indicators

  • self-destructive behavior
  • extremes of aggression or withdrawal
  • moves uncomfortably and shies away from physical contact
  • wears inappropriate clothing for the weather to cover body
  • reports that no caretaker is at home
  • fatigue and listlessness
  • steals or begs for food

Emotional Abuse
Physical Indicators

  • delayed physical development
  • speech disorders
  • substance abuse

Behavioral Indicators

  • developmental delays
  • withdrawn, depressed, or listless
  • inability to trust adults or peers
  • passive or aggressive behavioral extremes

Sexual Abuse
Physical Indicators

  • torn, stained, or bloody underwear
  • irritation of the mouth, genital, or anal area
  • venereal disease or frequent infections
  • difficulty sitting or walking

Behavioral Indicators

  • inappropriate sex play, acting out, seductiveness, or
  • sudden changes in school performance, appetite, or
  • excessive clinging, fear of being left alone, or impaired
  • withdrawal, depression, or hysteria
  • suicide attempts or running away

All 50 states require that those who work with children to
report reasonable suspicions of child abuse. Information about each
state’s mandatory reporting requirements is available at the Child
Welfare Information Gateway at
Source: Shepherd’s Watch Background Checks (
Copyright © 2013 Group Publishing, Inc.  All rights

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Child Abuse Indicators

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