Every child gets cuts or bruises once in a while–that’s why it can be hard to recognize the signs that a child is being abused. While a series of bruises, broken bones or other injuries can be a clue that a child is being abused or neglected, other signs can be tougher to pick up. These can include:
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping
- A decline in school performance
- A poor self-image
- Trouble trusting or loving others
- Intense anger or rage
- Acting out in the classroom
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Self-destructive behavior
- Withdrawal, passiveness or depression
- Difficulty forming new relationships
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Avoidance of home
- Fear of certain adults
None of these symptoms automatically signals that a child is being abused or neglected—for instance, children who are witnessing marital discord or other problems at home could exhibit similar symptoms. However, these are warning signs that suggest some questions need to be asked—and so they should not be ignored.
If you see or suspect a case of child abuse or neglect, or if you are being abused yourself, help is available.