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How to Detect Child abuse?

Updated on November 16, 2017
Nitika Mehra profile image

Nitika is a psychologist and has been working with an NGO, a school and two online counseling platforms.

Why is it necessary to look out for the signs?

Even though we talk with our children about it and give them safety instructions, teach them rules and plans, a child may not always tell you that he has been abused. He might feel a fear, a sense of embarrassment and shame and a number of complex emotions because it really is overwhelming to be a victim of this crime.

In other cases, a child isn't even able to speak or express as he is too young to do that. Therefore, it's important to look out for the non-verbal signs, the child's appearance and changes in behaviour.

Child abuse has several adverse psychological, interpersonal and behavioral effects on the victim, which might even continue till adulthood. Research shows that early detection and intervention has significant positive outcomes.

" Look in those eyes, if you find anything besides sparkle and happiness

It's time to examine and act!"

Signs that a child is being physically abused:

  1. Bruises or broken bones in small children not yet old enough to run or walk.
  2. Unexplained scratches or cuts.
  3. Fear of adults, even parents.
  4. Aversion to physical contact from others.
  5. Destructiveness towards self and surrounding people.
  6. Showing symptoms of younger ages, i.e. thumb sucking, bed wetting, acting clingy, etc.
  7. Poor social skills.
  8. Being moody and aggressive.
  9. Rebelliousness.
  10. Low confidence and being mute most of the time.

"If you punish a child, he won't learn.

If you love him, he will learn and even teach."

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  1. Unusual curiosity in sex-related stuff.
  2. Being secretive.
  3. Low self esteem.
  4. Inappropriate display of affection.
  5. Bruises, cuts and scratches on the body.
  6. Indications of stress and dullness on the face and body.
  7. Crying suddenly and over small things.
  8. Having mood swings and displaying stubbornness.
  9. Fear from an individual or from all people of a specific gender. Avoiding that person in social situations.
  10. Loss of interest in daily activities and grooming. Giving up hobbies which were previously followed.
  11. Changes in sleep patterns and appetite, irritability.


"All the symptoms mentioned above may not always indicate child abuse, there might be other conditions as well. So please talk to the child and take him to the physician also."


© 2017 Nitika Mehra


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    • Liztalton profile image

      Liztalton 6 months ago from Washington

      Great job on going over all the signs of physical and sexual abuse. A lot of these symptoms can simply be overlooked like a child rebelling. Many people automatically think that a child' rebelling because their a bad kid. When in reality there's sometimes deeper meaning behind their actions.