There is nothing so tragic as an abused or neglected child. Emotional injuries stemming from this behavior can last a lifetime. Recognizing the signs of abuse or neglect early on can save lives.
Neglect or Physical Abuse may be an issue if the child:
- Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
- Exhibits behavior or school performance that suddenly changes
- Has learning difficulties that aren’t due to specific physical or psychological causes
- Is hypervigilant, always ready to avoid people and things
- Has little or no adult supervision
- Comes to school early, stays late and does not want to go home
- Has unexplained bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
- Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
Take note if the parent:
- Has a history of abuse as a child
- Denies the existence of the child’s problems in school or at home
- Demands things of the child that he or she cannot achieve
- Instructs the teacher to use physical discipline on the child.
- Sees the child as a worthless burden
- Depends on the child for emotional stability
- Offers an unconvincing explanation for the child’s injury
- Uses harsh language and physical discipline with the child
In the parent/child relationship, you may notice that they rarely look at each other. They may say they don’t like each other and have nothing positive to say about their relationship.
The signs of neglect are more subtle but important to note. Perhaps the child is frequently absent from school or begs and steals money or food. Perhaps the child is dirty and lacking in medical or dental care. When approached, the parent may be indifferent about the child, or depressed themselves, whether organically or through the use of alcohol and drugs.
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:
- Experiences nightmares or bedwetting
- Has difficulty walking or sitting
- Refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
- Demonstrates sophisticated sexual knowledge or behavior
The parents may also exhibit odd behavior. Perhaps they are overly protective of the child playing with children of the opposite sex. They may be secretive and rarely socialize and can be very controlling around their families.