In 2006, over 142,000 children were victims of physical abuse. Fortunately, there are signs to watch for, enabling you to spot potential physical abuse and potentially save a child. This abuse ranges from single episodes such shaking a baby to repeated abuse over long periods of time. And the numbers are not getting smaller. Each year some 1,400 children die from abuse or neglect and many believe those estimates are low as many child abuse cases go unreported.
Physical signs include:
In addition to these physical signs, abused children often present certain behaviors as well:
But children aren’t the only ones that give off signals of possible abuse. Here’s a few things to look for from parents and family members:
Parents who abuse also typically rotate doctors and hospitals, making it more difficult to establish a pattern. Many abusive parents were also victims of abuse themselves as children and may have developed distinct personality quirks such as obsessive perfectionism or a “better-than-you” type of attitude with a refusal to accept responsibility or blame for the child’s injuries.
Obviously, children do fall and they’ll collect a variety of cuts, bumps and bruises over the years but these injuries do not create the fear, isolation and other behavioral problems that accompany abuse. An abused child is not typically a bouncy, happy-go-lucky child so while injuries alone are not indicative of abuse, it can be a cue to look for more signs.
If you suspect child abuse, contact your local police department immediately. They can put you in touch with special counselors and organizations that can investigate the suspected abuse and provide resources and refuge for the abused child.