Child Abuse & Neglect

The mistreatment of children can be in the form of neglect or abuse, harmful things being done to them. Not meeting a child's basic physical, medical, educational, and emotional needs is neglect. Actual abuse may be physical, sexual, or emotional. Each year, more than 896,000 children are neglected or abused and 1400 die in the U S.

Child neglect and abuse often occurs with other forms of family violence, such as spousal abuse. Child neglect and abuse can lead to long-lasting problems, such as mental health problems and substance abuse. Abuse often creates a cycle, with adults who were abused as children being more likely to abuse their own children

Doctors and nurses are required by law to promptly report cases of suspected child neglect or abuse to a local Child Protective Services agency. Depending on the circumstances, the local law enforcement agency may also be notified. All reported cases of child abuse are investigated by representatives of the local Child Protective Services agency, who determine the facts and make recommendations.

Physical Neglect: Physically neglected children may appear undernourished, tired, or dirty or may lack appropriate clothing. Their development may be slow.

Physical Abuse: Children who have been abused for a long time are often fearful and irritable. They often sleep poorly. They may be depressed and anxious. They are more likely to act in violent, criminal, or suicidal ways. Bruises, burns, welts, or scrapes are common signs of physical abuse. Severe injuries to the mouth, eyes, brain, or other internal organs may be present but not visible - for example, infants who have been shaken violently may have no visible signs of injury and may appear to be sleeping deeply. There may be signs of old injuries, such as broken bones, which have healed.

Emotional Abuse: In general, children who are emotionally abused tend to be insecure and anxious and have low self-esteem. Infants who are emotionally neglected may appear unemotional or uninterested in their surroundings. They may lack social skills or be slow to develop speech and language skills. Children who are terrorized may appear fearful and withdrawn. They may be distrustful, unassertive, and extremely anxious to please adults. They may inappropriately reach out to strangers

Sexual Abuse: Changes in behavior, often abrupt, are common. Children may become aggressive, withdrawn or develop phobias/sleep disorders. They may behave in sexually inappropriate ways for their age. Sexual abuse may also result in bruises, tears, or bleeding in areas around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Injuries in the genital and rectal areas may make walking and sitting difficult. Girls may have a vaginal discharge or a sexually transmitted disease