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Child Abuse
Child abuse is any physical injury, physical neglect, emotional injury, or sexual act inflicted upon a child.

Common physical indicators of abuse include:

  • bruises
  • welts
  • bite marks
  • burns 
  • fractures
  • scars
  • serious internal injuries
  • lacerations
  • abrasions
  • unusual bleeding

Common behavioral indicators of physical abuse include the child:

  • Demonstrating behavioral extremes, including very aggressive or demanding conduct 
  • Appearing frightened of the parent or caretaker
  • Being full of rage, passive or withdrawn 
  • Being apprehensive when other children cry 
  • Verbally reporting abuse 
  • Being extremely hyperactive, distracted or irritable 
  • Demonstrating disorganized thinking, self-injurious or suicidal behavior 
  • Running away from home or engaging in illegal behavior such as drug abuse, gang activity or cult activity 
  • Displaying severe depression, flashbacks (including hallucinatory experiences) and disassociative disorders 

*Please note that these behavioral indicators must be considered with other evidence.* 

Ask yourself these questions when determining whether physical abuse has occurred:

1. Is the explanation consistent with physical evidence?

2. Are there any other physical or behavior indicators?

3. Are there family/environmental stresses that are apparent?

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Emotional abuse of maltreatment is a consistent, chronic behavior by a parent or caretaker that has a harmful effect on the child. It involves a pattern of attitudes or acts that are detrimental to the child’s development of a sound and healthy personality. Each of us may be guilty of having unkindly snubbed a child or of having criticized him/her too harshly. However, emotional abuse, as defined here, seriously impairs the child’s social, emotional or intellectual functioning.

Emotionally abused children tend to exhibit common behavioral indicators such as:

  • Biting, rocking, head-banging, or thumb sucking in an older child (habit disorders)
  • Daytime anxiety and unrealistic fears
  • Irrational and persistent fears, dreads, or hatreds
  • Sleep problems, nightmares
  • Behavioral extremes
Common behavioral indicators displayed by caregivers include:
  • Rejecting or belittling the child (making the child feel he/she can do nothing right)
  • Ignoring the child (taking little or no interest in the child)
  • Terrorizing the child by blaming the child for things over which the child has no control
  • Isolating the child (cutting the child off from normal social experiences)
  • Corrupting the child (teaching the child socially deviant patterns of behavior)
  • Repeatedly giving the child contradictory messages that leave the child confused and incapable of pleasing the parent
  • Using an inconsistent, unpredictable, erratic and threatening style of discipline

*REPORTING CHILD ABUSE*

A report may be made orally to the State Department of Children and Families (DCF ), local law enforcement, or the Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330.

The following information should be included:

  • The name and address of the child, the child’s parents, or other individuals responsible for the child’s care
  • The child’s location
  • The child’s condition, including the nature and extent of the child’s injuries
  • Whether the alleged perpetrator has access to the child
  • Any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in showing the cause of the injuries or the extent to which the child might be in danger.

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