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Brief Definitions and Possible Signs of Child Abuse

Neglect - Child neglect is defined as omission of the child’s basic needs – physical, environmental, emotional, and nutritional – that are necessary for a child’s physical and emotional well-being.

Possible Signs of Neglect:

  1. Failure to thrive
  2. Inappropriate dress for climate
  3. Stealing of food
  4. Depression
  5. Untreated medical conditions
  6. Poor hygiene

Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse is abuse in which a person exposes a child to spoken and/or unspoken violence or emotional cruelty. Emotional abuse sends a message to the child of worthlessness, inadequacy, and being not only unloved but undeserving of love and care.

Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse:

  1. Withdrawal behavior
  2. Failure to thrive
  3. Threats of or attempts of suicide
  4. Extreme attempts to seek adult behavior
  5. Extreme passive/aggressive behavior patterns

Physical Abuse  - Physical abuse is abuse in which a person deliberately and intentionally causes bodily harm to a child. Examples may include violent battery with a weapon (knife, belt, strap, or other), burning, shaking, kicking, choking, and any of a wide variety of non-accidental injuries to a child’s body.  

Possible Signs of Physical Abuse:

  1. Hostile and aggressive behavior toward others
  2. Fearfulness of parents and/or other adults
  3. Destructive behavior toward self, others, and property
  4. Inexplicable physical injuries, repetitious injuries

Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse is abuse involving sexual contact between a child and an adult, or between a young child and a significantly older child. Also included is verbal abuse of a sexual nature and exposing the child to pornography.

Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse:

  1. Unusually advanced sexual knowledge and/or behavior for child’s age and development
  2. Sexually reactive behavior
  3. Clingy behaviors -won’t separate from one adult to another
  4. Run away from home behavior
  5. Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue
  6. Sexually transmitted diseases