Every year, thousands of children fall victim to child abuse. This abuse can be perpetrated by a parent, caretaker, or even an older sibling. Abuse does not have to be physical. It can also include sexual misconduct with a child, as well as emotional and psychological abuse. Any harm done to a child is considered abuse. Even harm done unintentionally or indirectly can be considered abuse. Neglect of a child’s needs, such as food or shelter, and child exploitation are both forms of abuse.
There are many signs to look for if you suspect abuse of a child. Some symptoms are physical, such as unexplained bruises, broken bones, or even ongoing and untreated illness. If a child cringes in the presence of parents or other caretakers, or fears touch or physical attention, they may be exhibiting behavioral signs of abuse. Victims of sexual abuse may experience sudden and unusual awkwardness or upset when expected to participate in certain physical activities, or when changing clothes for gym class. They may also show obvious physical discomfort when running, walking or even sitting. Children experiencing emotional or psychological abuse may experience rapid fluctuation in mood. These behaviors may be extreme and out of character. A child who is typically docile and quiet may suddenly exhibit rage or violence against other children or may even attempt to harm himself.
Many children die each year at the hands of abusers. If you believe a child is being abused, it’s important to act immediately. Many communities have tip lines where you may report your concerns anonymously.
Child safety should be practiced on a daily basis.
Child protection extends well beyond the household.