Signs of Abuse and Neglect
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It can be difficult to know when a child is being abused; their reactions can vary by personality, culture or age. Common clues to watch for include:
- Changes in mood and behavior.Abused children can appear more aggressive, scared, anxious, depressed or withdrawn. They may be anxious about leaving school or going places with the abuser.
- Changes in eating or sleeping.Stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to weight gain or loss, frequent nightmares, difficulty sleeping or extreme fatigue.
- Changes in school performance and attendance. Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences. A child may also present as an overachiever and possibly be hyper-vigilant about grades or school activities.
- Lack of personal care or hygiene. Children may appear uncared for or exhibit poor hygiene as a result of parental neglect or sexual abuse.
- Risk-taking behaviors. Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol, carrying a weapon or overly sexualized behavior.
If a child discloses to you, don’t confront the abuser.
Let the child know you believe them and don’t blame them; talk to a professional.