Carole L. Eller
Extension Educator, 4-H and Youth Development
University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension
Copyright Access Information
YOU WILL LEARN:
- what child abuse is.
- how to recognize child abuse.
- about your responsibilities for reporting child abuse.
WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
Child abuse is hurting or not caring for a child. It can be
physical - hurting the child's body. It can be emotional - criticizing
how a child thinks or feels.
Child abuse is against the law. If you think someone is hurting
a child, you must tell the Child Welfare Agency in your state.
This is the law. If you do not report your suspicions, you are
breaking the law, too.
RECOGNIZING CHILD ABUSE
There are two basic ways to tell if a child is being abused.
One is by looking at the child for physical signs of abuse. The
other is by observing how the child acts. Remember, a healthy
child may show one or more of these signs once in a while. However,
if you see these signs often, the child may be the victim of abuse.
SIGNS OF ABUSE
- has unexplained bruises, welts, or breaks on face, lips,
mouth, body, back, bottom, thighs, or sex organs (genitals)
- exhibits bruises in different stages of healing
- has bruises shaped like a belt buckle, electrical cord, or
something that could be used to hurt a child
- has bruises in several different areas
- exhibits bruises after the child has been absent
- has unexplained burns
- has cigar or cigarette burns, especially on feet, hands,
back, or bottom
- exhibits burns from being placed in hot water, (sock-like,
glove-like, or doughnut shaped on bottom or sex organs)
- has burns in patterns (like elec-tric stove burner, iron,
- has rope burns on arms, legs, neck, or body
- has infected burns (showing that the burn was not treated
- has trouble walking or sitting
- has torn, stained, or bloody under clothing
- experiences pain when going to the bathroom
- has discharge from sex organs
- has venereal disease (especially in preteens)
- needs to go to bathroom often
- has a vacant or frozen stare
- has continuing problems such as stomachaches, vomiting, etc.
- is behind in physical development fails to grow or gain weight
- often feels deserving of punishment
- is somewhat fearful of contact with adults
- is frightened when other chil-dren cry
- behavior changes from very shy to aggressive and/or over
- is frightened of parents
- is afraid to go home
- is very inactive or daydreams a lot
- lies very still while watching surroundings (in infants)
- responds to questions with one word
- looks and acts older than he or she should for age
- acts up to get attention
- does not make close friendships
- seeks affection at any time
- thinks little of himself or herself
- always tries to do everything he or she is told
- is constantly crabby
- reports sexual assault by person caring for him or her
- feels and acts very unhappy
- suddenly has sleeping or eating problems
- exhibits much or unusual rubbing of the genitals
- tells someone something but not the whole story ("We
have a secret, but I can't tell," "I want to tell you
something, but I can't," etc.)
- exhibits withdrawal, fantasy, or babyish behavior
- has weird sexual ideas or behavior
- injures himself or herself
- has speech problems
- is very active or behaves in such a way as to disturb others
- has a pale face and blank stare
- exhibits a habit disorder such as unusual sucking, biting,
REPORTING SUSPECTED ABUSE
Remember, it is against the law to hurt a child. You must report
it when you suspect a child is being abused. After you report
abuse, wait a week and then call again to see what has been done.
Watch for new signs of abuse and report each one.
Each time you call, write down the time, date, and who you
talked to. Write down the child's name and what evidence you have
that the child is being abused.
ACTIVITIES TO TRY
1. Ask your trainer or agency representative for the telephone
number to call to report abuse. Put this number on the wall near
2. Think about how to report abuse. With a spouse or a friend,
practice calling to report abuse.
National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the
National Extension Service Children Youth and Family Educational
Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce these materials
in whole or in part for educational purposes only(not for profit
beyond the cost of reproduction) provided that the author and
Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is included:
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child
Care - NNCC. Eller, C.L. (1991). Child abuse (Family
Day Care Facts series). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts.
Any additions or changes to these materials must be preapproved
by the author.
FORMAT AVAILABLE:: Available only on the
DOCUMENT REVIEW:: Level
2 - Cooperative Extension Systems: Universities of
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut
ENTRY DATE:: July 1995
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