Warning Signs of Child Abuse

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Children who are abused need immediate help. They may not even understand that they are victims. This lesson will help you spot some of the many signs of child abuse.

What Is Child Abuse?

One of the worst things out there in this world is child abuse - the physical, emotional or sexual harm to a child. Even worse, in a sense, is that some children may not understand that what they are experiencing is abuse and very wrong. Therefore, they won't speak up for themselves or seek help.

This is why it's important that others step in when they recognize the warning signs of child abuse. This lesson will teach you about many of these signs.

Signs of Physical Abuse

The signs of physical abuse are sometimes subtle and other times quiet obvious. For example, you may notice a mark on a child's face that looks like several fingerprints. This could've come from a slap or someone squeezing their face or cheeks really hard.

It's important to differentiate physical marks on a child. Some may be simple scrapes or cuts from playing around outside, like a scraped knee. However, if you notice several defensive bruises or cuts on the arms or legs, then this may be a cause for concern.

Other signs of physical child abuse include:

  • Bite marks
  • Injuries that are given inconsistent explanations or are explained in a way not consistent with the injury itself.
  • Injuries requiring medical attention that have not received any
  • A swollen eye
  • Broken bones
  • Scars

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Many children who are physically abused are emotionally abused as well. This can lead to a wide variety of psychological and social problems for the child that may easily carry over into adulthood and affect them for the rest of their lives. This is why it's so critical to spotting the following potential warning signs of emotional child abuse:

  • Mood changes, depression, extreme anxiety, overt aggression and violence
  • A worsening of school performance
  • Cruelty to others, including animals
  • Extreme shyness
  • Obsessions or irrational fears
  • Speech disorders
  • Negative self-thoughts and self-actions (like cutting oneself)
  • Talk of suicide
  • Running away from home

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Just as with physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse of a child is extraordinarily serious. It can affect the child's ability to connect with others, to feel good about themselves, and to avoid feeling overwhelming guilt and shame. These feelings continue on into adulthood. Possible warning signs of the sexual abuse of a child are:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support