Child Abuse and Neglect

What is abuse?

“Abuse” is any physical injury, sexual abuse or emotional abuse inflicted on a child, other than by accidental means, by those responsible for the child’s care, custody and control,” EXCEPT:

“Discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed as abuse.”

What is neglect?

“Neglect” is failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being.”

What should I do if a child reports abuse to me?

* DO listen to the child. Don’t probe.
* DO make a note of quotes the child used in the disclosure, using the child’s words.
* DO call the hotline immediately.
* DO remember that your role is not to investigate.
* DO NOT interrogate or interview the child.
* DO NOT make the child repeat the disclosure to others.
* DO NOT condemn the alleged perpetrator.
* DO NOT make promises you can’t keep.

Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Physical Abuse

* Unexplained injuries
* Feels deserving of punishment
* Frightened of parent or caretaker
* May not cry or react when frightened
* Manipulates adults
* Reports injury by parent or caretaker
* Injures animals
* Wary of contact with adults
* Apprehensive when other children cry
* Inappropriate maturity
* Extremes in behavior, aggressive or withdrawn
* States he or she is afraid to go home
* Poor self-concept
* Aggressive play

Physical Neglect

* Evidence of failure to thrive
* Underweight, poor growth
* Lack of proper immunizations
* Delay in seeking medical care
* Lack of supervision
* Falls asleep during the day
* Inability to concentrate
* Evidence of Poor hygiene
* Inappropriate clothing for the weather
* Regularly complains of being hungry
* Child is abandoned by parent or caretaker
* Regularly arrives early or stays late
* Untreated or gross dental problems
* Chronic ailment

Sexual Abuse

* Masturbates during stressful times
* Inappropriate touching of adults
* Inappropriate knowledge of sexual matters
* Unusual fear of adults
* Inappropriate sexual play with other children
* Touches genital area on regular basis
* Reports sexual contact with adult
* Unusual friendliness with unknown adults
* Runs away from home
* States he or she is afraid to go home
* Urinary infections
* Sexually transmitted diseases
* Fear of dark, restrooms
* Wetting accident

Emotional Abuse

* Low self-esteem
* Self-critical
* Critical of other children
* Over-compliant
* Withdrawn
* Reports nightmares
* Fearful of parents or caretakers
* Displays symptoms of other abuse or neglect

Source: Prevent Child Abuse Missouri
taken from: Sunday News-Leader, Feb. 11, 2007


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