Parenting

Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse

It may be difficult to know if a child has been abused. Often children who are the victims of abuse are threatened with more abuse if they dare to tell what happened to them. The following signs may be an indication that your child has been sexually abused. If you notice any of these signs in your child, seek professional help immediately:

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • A child knows more about sexual behavior than is appropriate for his age.
  • Unexplained medical problems in the genital area.
  • Sudden, unexplained personality changes, such as insecurity and fearfulness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Feelings of isolation and obvious withdrawal from people.
  • A lack of trust in people they usually enjoy being with.
  • Being worried about removing their clothes.
  • Nightmares.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained lesions or burns on the body.
  • Illogical explanations for these marks.
  • Wearing long sleeved and high neck clothes even when it is warm.
  • Being afraid of having medical tests.
  • Being afraid of having physical contact with anyone.
  • Frequent absences from home or school.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Sudden onset of speech difficulties.
  • Lasting personal depreciation.
  • Overreaction when making mistakes.
  • Being fearful of everything.
  • Unnecessary response to pain.
  • Neurotic behaviors.

What to do When You Suspect Abuse

If you feel that something is wrong, and suspect that your child might have been abused, look for professional advice immediately.

When your child acknowledge the abuse and talk to you about it, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Stay calm, and do not overreact in front of your child,
  • Go to a quiet, private place to talk,
  • Believe what your child is saying,
  • Listen but don’t push him/her to get more information,
  • Show him/her that you are happy that he/she told you,
  • Say that you try to do your best for him/her,
  • If your child told someone else besides you, try to contact that person,
  • Show that you do not think that he/she is the one to blame for what happened.

Unfortunately child abuse is on the rise, and more and more children have to live with the pain that it inflicts. Take action as soon as possible if you suspect that your child is being abused.

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