The Signs

Apr 5, 2009

    There are many obvious signs to child abuse, and then there are some that some people have no idea about. Following each of the types of child abuse, emotional, physical, sexual, neglect, etc, I learned that each different type of abuse has it's own way of presenting itself. For each type of abuse there are physical, behavioral, and caregiver signs.
     The signs of physical child abuse are often more noticeable then others. Obviously, the majority of the time, one can tell when a child has excessive bruises, cuts, markings, etc. Now obviously children are children, and they like to play rough and such, but when a child is constantly bruised or scraped up, it's a tell-tale sign that something's not right. Even the behavioral part reflects the physical signs. If a child flinches away from one's touch, fearful from simple things, or even afraid to go home (which is the most obvious sign), something's wrong. A less obvious behavioral sign, would be a clothing change. If it's a really hot day, and the child is wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt, a question based on the clothing may be appropriate. The caregiver signs may be a little harder to pick out. Some people can be the nicest people around others, and the devil when it comes to their children. Some ways to look for the signs are if the the parent gets easily frustrated at little things, always angry, or even excessive need for control.
    "Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline, ways to make children learn to behave. But there’s a big difference between giving an unmanageable child a swat on the backside and twisting the child’s arm until it breaks. Physical abuse can include striking a child with the hand, fist, or foot or with an object, burning, shaking, pushing, or throwing a child; pinching or biting the child, pulling a child by the hair or cutting off a child’s air."

    Emotional abuse doesn't necessarily leave marks, therefore it's harder to spot. The behavioral signs are not as clear, and the caregiver signs are sometimes impossible to spot. When a child is in constant fear of doing something wrong, or excessively shy, someone should take some initiative to start asking some questions. Even extreme behaviors such as a child trying to overly parent other children, excessive anger, or even being completely antisocial, can often be leading signs. Going to the caregivers signs, these can often be a lot tougher to spot. When a caregiver doesn't seem to care about the child's well-being, or what they do, something may not be right in that situation. Or often a caregiver can be overly concerned about what a child is doing, or how they perform in a sport/activity/etc. Any signs of extreme anger shown when a child makes a simple mistake, is basically a huge sign to anyone around them that something's wrong.
    "Tragically, many emotionally abusive caregivers can present a kind outside face to the world, making the abuse of the child all the more confusing and scary."

    With today's sick society, sexual abuse may be one of the hardest to distinguish, or one of the easiest. There can often be physical marks left, but with it being sexual, it's not always easy to locate the physical markings; mostly because they won't be visible with clothing to cover them. So everyone looks more for a behavioral sign. When a child has inappropriate knowledge, interest, or obsession with sexual topics/activities, can either mean the child has hit puberty hardcore, or that something is influencing the child to think this way. Some harder things to notice, if the person looking for the signs doesn't live with the child, is often bed-wetting, or even night-terrors. Fear of a particular person, often someone close to the child, or drastic changes in a child's appetite, can be very apparent signs of sexual abuse. With this particular abuse, there are so many different types of physical, behavioral, etc symptoms that it can be either really hard to notice it, or extremely easy, It'll all depend on the signs, and on the abused.
    "Children often do not tell us with words that they have been sexually abused or that they have successfully resisted an assault and don't know quite what to do next. There are many reasons children might hesitate or be afraid to tell us about what has happened, including their relationship to the offender, fear of the consequences, retaliation or uncertainty about whether or not they will be believed."

    In my opinion, neglect is often one of the easiest types of child abuse to notice. The physical signs are extremely apparent, and the emotional signs aren't that hard to spot either. Some of the basic physical signs are if a child is obviously malnourished, sick all the time, poor hygiene, inappropriate dress, or apparent lack of shelter. Some of the physical signs can't be helped if a family was homeless, or extremely poor. Sometimes there's nothing a parent can do to help these signs. In all seriousness, if a caregiver is purposely neglecting a child then the behavioral signs can be the same as any other type of abuse, or they might not show at all. Neglect happens all the time, and sometimes a caregiver would give anything to prevent it, but due to certain circumstances, it's not possible to prevent.
    "Nationally, of the children for whom the allegations of maltreatment were proven, 56% were neglected, 25% were physically abused, 13% were sexually abused, 6% were emotionally abused, and 13% were classified as suffering from some other form of abuse. (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Maltreatment 1997.)"

    Just being aware of these signs, gives many people a chance to stop abuse. Often times a person isn't sure about it, or is afraid to report it. The only way we can stop child abuse, is to report it. These are childrens lives we're dealing with, we have to try and protect them at all costs-they're our future.