Child Abuse: How You Can Help
Any form of abuse or neglect can cause serious emotional harm to children. As bystanders, it’s the law and our moral duty to report cases of suspected child abuse. Knowing the types and signs of abuse is the first step to getting children out of abusive situations.
Types of Child Abuse
Child abuse includes any type of abuse or neglect to a child under 18 years of age. The four most common types of child abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
Signs of Abuse
Not all abuse is physical. While bruises and unexplained injuries can be obvious signs of maltreatment, children suffering from any kind of abuse may display the following signs:
- Excessively withdrawn, anxious, or fearful
- Afraid to go home or to a certain place
- Extremes in behavior (lashing out or extremely compliant)
- Complaints of genital or bodily pain
- On edge, flinches at sudden movements or shies away from touch
- Attempts running away from home
- Frequently absent or missing school
Who to Tell
In many cases of child abuse, the abuser is someone the child knows. Feelings of shame, guilt, or confusion may plague an abused child as he or she no longer knows who to trust. This uncertainty can make it difficult for an abused child to find someone to confide in.
If you see a child suffering from any of the above signs, report it immediately to your local authorities. The sooner a child gets help, the greater chance he will have to heal and break the cycle of abuse.
If a child needs immediate medical attention, call 911 or take the child to the nearest CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency room. Strong advocates against all kinds of violence, we encourage everyone to eliminate negative influences from our environment.