Signs of Abuse and Neglect


There are four different types of abuse:

  • Physical: injuries, such as beatings, burns (including hot water scalds), and bites
  • Verbal: constant criticism, insults, the withholding of love
  • Sexual: Rape, fondling of the genitals, incest
  • Neglect: failure to provide appropriate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care to the extent that the child’s health or safety in endangered

Children who are physically abused may:

  • Be nervous around adults
  • Be watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Have difficulty playing
  • Act aggressively toward adults and other children
  • Be unable to concentrate at school
  • Suddenly underachieve-or overachieve-at school
  • Find it difficult to trust other people and make friends
  • Arrive at school too early, or leave after the other children

Children who are sexually abused may:

  • Behave differently when abuse starts
  • Care less about their appearance and/or health
  • Talk or act sexually at too early an age
  • Be secretive and stop talking about their home lives
  • Start soiling themselves
  • Be unable to sleep
  • Suddenly find physical contact frightening
  • Run away from home

Children who are neglected or emotionally abused may:

  • Have difficulty learning to talk
  • Find it hard to develop close relationships
  • Be overly friendly with strangers
  • Be unable to play imaginatively
  • Think badly of themselves
  • Underachieve at school

Any of these signs may be noticeable at one time or another. If they occur repeatedly or in combination with one another, the child may be suffering from abuse.

To report a suspected case of abuse, please call 1-800-552-7096.



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