Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 855-OH-CHILD

Recognizing a Child's Behavior

A child who is being abused may feel afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent or other caregiver–instead, they may disclose abuse through nonverbal cues. For example, the child may suddenly have an apparent fear of adults or may be afraid to go home, which is why it is critical to watch for red flags, such as:

Injured head

Physical Abuse Signs And Symptoms

  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures, or burns
  • Injuries that don’t match the given explanation
  • Untreated medical or dental problems
Curled up

Neglect Signs And Symptoms*

  • Poor growth, weight gain, or hygiene
  • Lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs
  • Taking food or money without permission
  • Eating a lot in one sitting or hiding food for later
  • Poor record of school attendance
  • Signs of untreated medical or dental problems

*Please note that families of any socio-economic status can experience signs of neglect.

No Touching

Sexual Abuse Signs And Symptoms

  • Sexual behavior or knowledge that’s not age-appropriate
  • Blood in the child’s underwear
  • Trouble walking or sitting or complaints of genital pain
  • Abuse of other children sexually
Bandaged Heart

Emotional Abuse Signs And Symptoms

  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause
  • Avoidance of certain situations
  • A decrease in school performance

How Can I Make a Difference

Whether you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or just want to make a positive impact in the life of a family, it only takes a minute:

  • To reach out to a child
  • To reach out to a caregiver or child in distress
  • To reach out for support if you’re a caregiver in distress
  • For an unsupervised child to get hurt
  • To help find the caregiver of an unattended child
  • To report suspected child abuse
  • To call law enforcement

If you recognize the outlined warning signs or suspect a child may be at risk, contact the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at: 855-OH-CHILD