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Recognizing and Responding to Signs of Child Abuse

One of the most heinous crimes that can be committed is the abuse of a child, yet it happens far too often. According to Childhelp, a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds, and an average of five children lose their lives to abuse and neglect. Sadly, these statistics show the horrific epidemic in the United States.

We do not take child abuse lightly; unfortunately, some people make false allegations.We must focus our efforts on helping those who are mistreated, and we can start by recognizing the signs of abuse. However, we also need to note that false reports can do much damage and take away from the main issue at hand. We at Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices are committed to vindicating those who have been wrongly accused.

Different Types of Child Abuse

A bruised eye or broken bone isn’t the only telltale sign of child abuse. Some forms of abuse are not always visible, making the situation potentially more dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are four main types of abuse and neglect.

  • Physical abuse. The intentional use of physical force that harms the child. Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other forms of force used against a child.

  • Sexual abuse. Involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It may include behaviors such as fondling, penetration, or exposing a child to other sexual activities and materials.

  • Emotional abuse. Behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being, such as name-calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love, and making threats.

  • Neglect. Failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These include shelter, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.

Warning Signs of Abuse or Neglect

Below are examples that there may be child abuse or neglect. While none of these can prove mistreatment, when they appear repeatedly or in combination, the matter should be investigated.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes;

  • Acts frightened of the parents and protests or is upset when it is time to go home from school;

  • Shrinks at the approach of adults; or

  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Has trouble with walking or sitting;

  • Demonstrates unusual sexual knowledge or behavior;

  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted disease, particularly if under age fourteen;

  • Runs away from home; or

  • Reports of sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Excessively anxious or fearful about doing something wrong ;

  • Delays in physical or emotional development;

  • Has attempted suicide; or

  • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent.

Signs of Neglect

  • Is frequently absent from school;

  • Begs or steals food or money from classmates;

  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses;

  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor;

  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather;

  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs; or

  • States there is no one at home to provide care.

What to do if You Suspect Child Abuse

If you suspect a child is being harmed, you should report it. You can contact your local child protective services office or contact Childhelp, a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling services.

Recognizing these signs and reporting them can help save a child’s life. However, not all reports of abuse are substantiated. Further investigation may reveal some accusations, even those made in good faith, are not true. If you have been wrongly accused of child abuse, we are here to help. This can be a devastating time, but you do not need to go through it alone. Our attorney, Jim Rutter, has more than 20 years of trial experience in this arena and has become one of the sought-after voices on the topic of the falsely accused.

Contact our Columbia child abuse defense attorney today at (573) 279-1349 to schedule a consultation.