Monday, April 21, 2008

Indicators of Possible Child Abuse

Indicators of Possible Child Abuse

How can we ever stop child abuse if we don’t understand how children that have been abused present? The following is a short list of indicators. Please understand that indictors in each category may pertain to more than one type of abuse or neglect. For example, “lack of concentration” could be a sign of sexual abuse, as well as emotional abuse. Also understand that these indictors by no means conclusively prove that a child has been abused. They are merely a guide of what child abuse could look like and indicators tend to happen in clusters with many being seen at the same time.

1. Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts
2. Bite marks
3. Anti-social behavior
4. Problems in school
5. Fear of adults

1. Apathy
2. Depression
3. Hostility or stress
4. Lack of concentration
5. Eating disorders

1. Inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts
2. Nightmares and bed wetting
3. Drastic changes in appetite
4. Over-compliance or excessive aggression
5. Fear of a particular person or family member
6. Abrupt change in personality

1. Unsuitable clothing for weather
2. Dirty or unwashed
3. Extreme hunger
4. Apparent lack of supervision
5. Persistent lice
6. Medical needs not being addressed

If a child tells you about their abuse

1. Be approachable- ready to talk and listen

2. Always remain calm- may reaffirm child’s fears if you appear upset or angry
3. Reassure them you are glad they told you
4. Don’t make any promises
5. Don’t keep it a secret
6. Seek the appropriate help immediately and don’t investigate yourself
7. Call Local Law Enforcement or 1-800-96-Abuse

How to Reinforce Personal Safety at Home

1. Always be approachable, let kids know they can always come to you with problems or questions

2. List trusted adults they can talk to
3. Use appropriate correct names for body parts
4. Have touching rules in your family
5. Watch videos or read books about personal safety
6. Role play “ what if “ situations
7. Let them know that it is ok to say no to an adult who wants to touch their private parts
8. Let them know they have a right in who touches them
9. Never force a child to be affectionate with you or others – it sends a confusing message

Child Abuse costs US $258 Million each day!

Child Abuse Costs You

Child abuse is not only a social issue it’s an economic one too. In a first ever landmark report completed by Prevent Child Abuse funded by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation estimates that the United States spends $258 million each day as a direct or indirect result of the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children. The estimate includes the direct costs associated with child abuse intervention and treatment for the medical and emotional problems suffered by abused and neglected children, as well as the indirect costs associated with the long-term consequences of abuse and neglect to both the individual and society at large. The study estimates that the annual costs are equivalent to $1,461.66 per U.S. family.

“Studies have shown for years that abused and neglected children are less likely to be school-ready and more likely to exhibit behavior disorders, to become teen parents and juvenile criminals, and to abuse alcohol and drugs. These consequences can become more pronounced as abused or neglected children grow into adulthood, making them more likely to become adult criminals and to develop chronic illnesses.” The long-term effects of child abuse are taking a staggering toll on families emotionally, psychologically and financially.

Total Daily Cost of Child Abuse & Neglect in the United States

Direct Costs Estimated Daily Cost

Health Care System
Hospitalization $17,001,082
Chronic Health Problems $8,186,185
Mental Health Care System $1,164,686
Child Welfare System $39,452,054
Law Enforcement $67,698
Judicial System $934,725
Total Direct Costs $66,806,430

Indirect Costs

Special Education $612,624
Mental Health and Health Care $12,678,455
Juvenile Delinquency $24,124,086
Lost Productivity to Society $1,797,260
Adult Criminality $151,726,027
Total Indirect Costs $190,938,452
TOTAL COST $257,744,882

Data courtesy of Prevent Child Abuse America Note: The statistical data used to compile this chart is available on the Prevent Child Abuse web site,

What is Child Abuse?

Our Nation’s Children at Risk

A child abuse report is made every 10 seconds in the United States and that totals to 3 million reports made each year. Experts agree that the number of actual child abuse cases in the US is roughly three times the number being reported. Child abuse occurs at all socio-economic levels, across all ethnic and cultural, religious and educational levels. Nearly 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be the victim of child abuse prior to their 18th birthday. Most believe this is something that only happens to other people but as one expert said “to others you are the other person.”

What is Child Abuse?

Although there are many formal and acceptable definitions of child abuse, the following is offered as a guide. Child abuse consists of any act that endangers or impairs a child's physical or emotional health and development. Child abuse includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature.

Major forms of child abuse
Physical abuse - Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling.

Sexual abuse - Any sexual act between an adult and child. May also occur between children. This includes fondling, oral sex, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, or forced observation of sexual acts.

Neglect - Failure to provide for a child's physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care, and inadequate hygiene.

Emotional abuse - Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child's mental health or social development. This includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are "bad, no good, worthless" or "a mistake". It also includes the failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child's emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being.