Wouldn't it be nice if you could trust family members, teachers and babysitters with your children? Unfortunately, you can't trust everyone you want to these days. Most especially, you have to trust your eyes more than your heart in child abuse cases.
There are four recognized forms of child abuse: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. All types of child abuse have lasting emotional and sometimes physical consequences. If you want to know if your child is abused, look for these signs:
Neglect generally happens at home. If your children spend a lot of time away from your home, you might want to make sure they are not being neglected, especially if they claim no one takes care of them.
Inadequately dressed for the weather
Excessively listless, tired or sick or lacks proper immunizations
Poor hygiene or unattended medical or dental problems
Constantly hungry, or often begging, collecting or stealing food
Cares for younger siblings
Craves unusual amounts of attention
Unusual school attendance
Lack of attachment to other adults
Plays in dangerous environments
Keep in mind two things. Some of these signs, particularly behavioral changes, could be caused by something traumatic like a divorce or a death in the family. And some of the signs listed under one form of abuse can also appear in other forms.
Knowing the signs of abuse is important, but discovering your child is being abused is a delicate matter. Instead of confronting them, build a loving relationship with them so they feel comfortable talking to you.
When your children open up to you about any form of abuse, strive to put aside emotions like shock or disgust, according to the Children's Bureau. Be as comforting as possible and don't interrogate. Too many questions may scare your child, so be as conversational as possible.
While you should carefully observe your children for signs of abuse, keep an eye out for other children, and report any signs of abuse you witness to authorities. You never know when your observations could save a child in danger.
Stacie Simpson is a FamilyShare staff writer. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.