Signs of child abuse & neglect

Abuse and neglect can have emotional, mental and physical effects long into a child’s future. Signs like bruises, scrapes, cuts and broken bones are common with physical abuse, while emotional abuse typically results in a change of the child’s actions and behaviors. Learn more about ways to identify and report child abuse and neglect in Stark County.

Identifying child neglect

Neglect can be anything from leaving a child home alone to a lack of food and medical care. Children who have been neglected may show the following signs:

  • Dirty hair, skin and clothes
  • Hungry with no lunch money
  • No coat, hat or gloves
  • Poor language and communication skills
  • Unsuitable living environment
  • Untreated medical issues


Identifying emotional abuse

Typically, there aren’t any physical signs of emotional abuse, but you may notice changes in a child’s actions or behaviors. The following are common signs of a child who has been emotionally abused:

  • Overly affectionate towards strangers
  • Emotionally distant, worried or anxious
  • Lacks close relationships with parents or caregivers
  • Shows aggression toward other children and animals


Identifying physical abuse

Because accidents can happen to any child, there are no certain signs of physical abuse. However, if a child often has injuries and you start to notice a pattern, it is a good idea to report the situation. Common symptoms of physical abuse might include:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Broken bones and other major injuries
  • Depressed, anxious and withdrawn
  • Misses school
  • Physical marks such as bites, burns and bruises
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Wets the bed and soils clothes


Identifying sexual abuse

Any time a child is persuaded to take part in sexual activities, it is considered abuse. It can be physical contact, sexually suggestive language and can even happen online. The following behaviors are common signs to look out for:

  • Avoids being alone with certain people
  • Becomes sexually active at a young age
  • Multiple sexually transmitted infections
  • Promiscuity and early pregnancy
  • Seems frightened or reluctant in social situations