Recognizing signs of child abuse
Signs that a child may be facing abuse or neglect at home can become clear to those who come in contact with the child, if they know what to look for.
Physical signs of abuse such as cuts, burns or bruises are often covered up as accidents, sports injuries or products of rowdy playtime. It is not uncommon for a child to lie when being questioned about their injuries or try to cover up the actions of their abuser. This can be out of fear or confusion, as their abuser is often a loved one or their primary caregiver.
It is crucial to be on the lookout for behavioral warning signs if you think a child might be being abused, either physically or verbally. Children who appear to be excessively nervous, fearful, shy or wary of physical contact may be being mistreated by an adult in their life.
It is also common for an abused or neglected child to revert back to old behaviors from a younger stage in their life. This might include sucking on their thumb or becoming attached to a toy or stuffed animal. A child who is abused in the home may begin to suffer in school and struggle to maintain social relationships and friendships.
A child suffering from emotional abuse may display some physical indications that they are in distress. This can include hair loss, weight loss or the development of a stutter or other speech impediment.
Many people are hesitant to step in when they believe a child is being mistreated. They think it is none of their business and that it’s wrong to interfere in the personal life of another family. But it is everyone’s responsibility to report the possible abuse of a child. Whether you’re a teacher, tutor, babysitter or the parent of a classmate, if you have reason to believe a child is being verbally, physically, emotionally or sexually abused, report it to the Florida Department of Children and Families immediately.