Signs of Child Abuse

Here are some indicators of child abuse, certainly this is not an all-inclusive list. Not by a long shot. In any case, some signs that a child is experiencing abuse are more obvious than others. Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact authorities. You do not need proof.

Behavioral Signs Include:

  • Acting out sexually, or knowledge of sex that is not age appropriate
  • Self-destructive and risk-taking behavior (hair pulling, cutting, drug and alcohol use)
  • Returning to earlier behaviors (bedwetting, thumb-sucking)
  • Changes in school performance and attendance
  • Fire starting


Physical Signs Include:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Lack of personal hygiene or care
  • Dirty or unkept clothing
  • Weight loss/gain, change in appetite
  • Swelling, redness, soreness, bleeding, infections or other changes in the genital area
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches


Emotional Signs Include:

  • Nightmares/changes in sleeping
  • Depression or unstable moods
  • New or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Separation anxiety