Child Abuse and Neglect (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Abused or neglected children often show both physical and behavioral symptoms. Older children may not talk about the problem, because they fear or want to protect the offender or they do not believe they will be taken seriously. Sometimes children report abuse to an adult they trust. These conversations should be taken seriously and acted upon.
Some symptoms are specific to certain forms of maltreatment. There are also general symptoms that can occur with all types.
Certain general symptoms that may suggest that a child is experiencing some type of abuse or neglect include:
Symptoms of physical abuse
Symptoms of psychological abuse
A child who experiences psychological abuse has a parent or caregiver who uses tactics to hurt a child psychologically, such as by saying demeaning words or by failing to be supportive. The emotional pain caused by this type of abuse can devastate a child. An emotionally abused child may:
Symptoms of sexual abuse
A child with symptoms of recent sexual abuse may be reluctant to go to the bathroom; may show signs of discomfort or pain while sitting, urinating, or passing stools; may have discharge from the vagina or penis; or may bleed through his or her pants.
Certain behaviors may also point to sexual abuse. These include:1
Note: Sexual abuse is very different from normal sexual play between children. Sexual abuse is a criminal activity. It includes any sexual activity that the child is not able to understand or consent to. This may include, but is not limited to, obvious sexual acts (such as intercourse), fondling, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposure to pornography.
Normal sexual play involves preteen children within 4 years of age of each other, who have similar developmental levels. No force, power, or coercion is used, and the play-primarily touching and looking at genitalia-is driven by an innocent curiosity.
Symptoms of neglect
A child is neglected when he or she does not have appropriate care. A child's general appearance, home environment, and behavior patterns can show signs of neglect.
A child who is neglected may be:
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