The signs of abuse
It is difficult to recognise signs of violence on children. However, it is extremely important to learn to recognise them, even when they are not obvious and the child does not want to talk about them. Indeed, in certain cases children may not understand or realise what is happening to them or that what is happening to them is abuse.
The signs of abuse depend on the types of mistreatment inflicted upon a child. For example, a child that is neglected displays other signs than one that is being sexually abused.
Even so, there are some “common signs” in all children subjected to abuse.
Inexplicable changes in the child’s behaviour or personality
The child withdraws from its social environment
It displays acute anxiety
It becomes unusually aggressive, without cause or an obvious reason
It is not socially active. It does not participate in social activities, games, groups, and has very few, if any, friends.
It is not emotionally connected to its parents and seems to have weak bonds with them
It knows things that are not consistent with its age (sexual innuendos and games, knowledge about sex, etc.)
It runs away from other children, avoids people, disappears
It almost always chooses to wear clothes that cover its body
These signs cannot automatically lead to the conclusion that the child is being abused. They could indicate other things that are happening to the child and have affected its behaviour – even so, it would help to identify them and see whether we can offer support.
The signs include “suspicious” or at least “problematic” behaviour by an adult that you know is looking after children or might be a relative or even a parent of a child that you feel you must protect. Share your thoughts and concerns with a person who can help you ascertain whether your suspicions are well-founded.
Call ELIZA and we will arrange to bring you into contact with a specialist psychologist to help you in that.
Source: NYSPCC (New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)