Child abuse and neglect victims can face a lifetime of harmful memories and most unfortunate outcomes. Studies of child abuse and neglect sufferers show a negative impact on a child’s ability to do well in school.
Additionally, victims also have greater difficulty in forming healthy and lasting relationships. They may also have a negative impact on entire communities due to social issues and other consequences related to being abused at an early age.
According to the National Institutes of Health, child abuse is not just physical harm; it is the act of putting a child at risk or doing something that is harmful to a child, including physical, sexual, or emotional harm.
In fact, abused children suffer more from emotional, as opposed to physical abuse. They become depressed, have thoughts of suicide, and withdraw. Many abused victims grow up and turn to illicit and prescription drugs and alcohol in an attempt to try to escape haunting memories of the past.
Learning more about child abuse and neglect offers opportunities to be able to recognize common signs of child abuse, intervene, and make a huge difference in the life of a child. The following are a few common signs to help recognize child abuse.
If a child has cuts, scratches, blisters, or bruises shaped like objects, these can be signs of the child being abused, especially if the child has difficulty in explaining how they received the physical injury. The child may offer an unconvincing explanation, which is also a sign they may be a victim of abuse.
Additional unexplained injuries may include cigarette burns on various parts of the child’s body, black eyes; lash marks, marks around the child’s neck, and broken bones.
Numerous abused children have a fear of going home. Many children who suffer from child abuse unknowingly express their fear and apprehension in going somewhere with a person who may be abusing them. The child may also show signs of anxiety in leaving school for fear of going home to an abuser.
The child may say they want to live in a foster home or live in another institution. Some abused children try to escape their abusers by running away to join the circus, or live with the Amish.
Abused or neglected children may show themselves in such a way that they look like no one is taking care of them, exhibiting a poor hygienic and personal care appearance. They may look dirty and disheveled, have a strong body odor, and their clothes may be grimy and soiled most of the time.
In addition, during inclement, cold, and wet weather, child abuse and neglect victims may lack the right type of clothes to wear. A neglected or abused child could be suffering greatly during cold and rainy climate, for lack of sufficient and proper care.
Changes in sleeping and eating behavior are also signs of child abuse and neglect. Abused children may have difficulty in sleeping. They may also have frequent nightmares. An abused or neglected child may also appear fatigued or tired most of the time, having the tendency to fall asleep in the classroom and at other unexpected moments and locations.
An abuse victim may also develop poor eating habits, due to the fear, anxiety, and stress they feel. They may overeat, causing them to gain weight. On the other hand, they may choose not to eat, which is also a sign that they may be experiencing trouble at home, as well.
If a child is suspected of being abused, it should be immediately reported to the proper authorities. Most states have a child abuse hotline. If there is an immediate threat to a child, call 911. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) and website is also another place to get the desperately needed help and support a child abuse victim needs.