Identifying signs of Child Abuse

Indicators of Physical Abuse

  • Soft tissue injuries – bruising, abrasions, welts, lacerations ( in unusual locations )
  • An injury that is inconsistent with the explanation given
  • Bruises in multiple stages of healing
  • Bruises on babies less than 8 months old
  • Adult bite marks
  • Grabbing, pinching, squeezing, slapping, strap or belt marks, looped cord marks, imprints or lacerations from other objects such as coat hangers, knives or an object that leaves tattooing punctures
  • Burns, sometimes these are in “hidden” areas (in between toes, groin, etc)
  • Accidental injuries in children usually occur at bony prominence such as knees, elbows, shins
  • Unlikely accidental injuries occur on the buttocks, lower back, genitals, inner thighs, cheeks, ear lobes, mouth and neck.

Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Pregnancy or venereal disease, especially in young children
  • Sexualized behavior or knowledge of sexual facts and terminology beyond their developmental age
  • Abrupt personality changes or constant unexplained tension or fear- running away
  • Sleep disturbances or bedwetting
  • Criminal behavior. Fire setting. Cruelty to animals
  • Attempts to be unattractive or undesirable (such as poor hygiene)
  • Suicidal gestures or attempts
  • School difficulties

Having a child exhibit one or more of these signs is not conclusive proof of sexual or physical abuse. There could be any number of reasons why children exhibit some of these signs.

Children react differently depending on age, extent of abuse, support from others and their relationship to the offender.  If you have questions about a child’s behavior or signs they may be exhibiting, it is important to contact us to discuss your concerns, or contact Guernsey County Children Services to make a report.