Child Abuse and Neglect - Symptoms
A child who
experiences psychological abuse has a parent or caregiver who uses
tactics to hurt a child psychologically, such as by
saying demeaning words or by failing to be supportive. The emotional pain
caused by this type of abuse can devastate a child. An emotionally abused child
- Have little interest in what is going on
around him or her and not be eager to try new activities.
inappropriate responses to pain, other people, or changes in his or her
- Avoid a parent or caregiver.
- Act overly
fearful, angry, depressed, or anxious.
- Perform poorly in
- Inflict self-injury or be self-destructive.
Symptoms of sexual abuse
A child with
symptoms of recent sexual abuse may be reluctant to go
to the bathroom; may show signs of discomfort or pain while sitting, urinating,
or passing stools; may have discharge from the vagina or penis; or may bleed
through his or her pants.
Certain behaviors may also point to
sexual abuse. These include:1
Note: Sexual abuse is very different from
normal sexual play between children. Sexual abuse is a criminal activity. It
includes any sexual activity that the child is not able to understand or
consent to. This may include, but is not limited to, obvious sexual acts (such
as intercourse), fondling, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposure to
Normal sexual play involves preteen children
within 4 years of age of each other, who have similar developmental levels. No
force, power, or coercion is used, and the play-primarily touching and looking
at genitalia-is driven by an innocent curiosity.
Symptoms of neglect
A child is neglected when he
or she does not have appropriate care. A child's general appearance, home
environment, and behavior patterns can show
signs of neglect.
A child who is neglected may be:
- Significantly underweight or
- Obviously unhealthy, such as being sick or tired
most of the time.
- Dirty or have poor personal hygiene.