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BellaOnline's Child Abuse Editor

Signs of Physical and Emotional Abuse

There are four main types of abuse towards children. They are physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. With each of these types of abuse, there are warning signs, otherwise known as red flags. If someone that is responsible for the care of a child suspects abuse of any kind, there are signs that they can look for in order to plan their next course of action. In this article, I will take a look at physical and emotional abuse. Next weeks article will cover sexual abuse and neglect. There is so much information, when pertaining to warning signs of abuse.

Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, spanking, burning with hot objects such as cigarettes or hot irons etc. Abusers use a wide array of items to hit a child with. Some might use wire hangers while others use sticks of varying sizes. Some might kick the child with boots while others will punch the child with their fist.

The warning signs of physical abuse include burn marks that are unusual, such as in the shape of a cigarette butt. Other warning signs are burn marks that match a curling iron. With physical abuse, there are also bruises in unusual places. Children in general get hurt all the time while playing. If they are running around or climbing trees and such, they will get small cuts, scratches, and bruises on their forearms or shins. However, a sign that tips off to an adult that abuse might be occurring are bruises in unusual places, such as on the back, shoulders, thighs etc. The bruises might also be in the shape of an instrument, such as a stick or a hanger. Some children also have bruises in the shape of a hand on their skin. If an adult suspects child abuse and asks the child how they got the bruises, the child might tell them they fell down the stairs, tripped over something on the floor, fell off the Swingset etc. The child will not go into detail about how they got injured.

Emotional abuse includes calling the child names, playing with their emotions by telling them they were a mistake or that they were not wanted, purposefully ignoring the child, telling the child that everything that goes wrong is their fault, making them feel stupid or unwanted, telling them that they are not worth anything, etc. Emotional abuse has long term side effects for the child. This type of abuse strips away the child’s self-esteem.

Warning signs of emotional abuse are low self-esteem, depression, and withdrawal, just to name a few. It is my understanding that a child that is emotionally abused will not have the motivation to be involved in group activities because of fear of being alienated or blamed for whatever goes wrong. They will not have the self-esteem that is needed to participate in a group activity. They also may withdraw themselves from classroom discussions for fear of being ridiculed or belittled. The child that is emotionally abused might also shows signs of abuse around family or relatives. They may withdraw themselves from family activities, such as those that occur during the holidays. They may prefer to be alone.

As you can see, there are many warning signs of abuse, regardless of the form. It is my hope that my readers will take note of these warning signs and use them on a daily basis if they are working with, or caring for, children. It is important to know the warning signs of any form of abuse, so that the abuse may be stopped and the child receive adequate care and treatment. It is also necessary to be educated on the warning signs of abuse in order to prevent further abuse of a child.

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