Child abuse is a difficult and emotional subject to talk about. If you are sensitive to any discussion of abuse, this may not the be the article for you. The Florida Department of Children and Families has online reporting tools if you or someone you love needs those resources.

As difficult as it is to discuss abuse of any kind, education around the subject is still necessary. Today, we are enumerating the various red flags that often indicate child abuse, as well as defining the types of abuse.

What Is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is when someone damages a child’s physical or emotional well-being. Abuse also targets a child’s development. Oftentimes, the one inflicting the harm is an adult in the child’s life. Unfortunately, this is most common among family members and caregivers.

Types Of Child Abuse

Physical

Physical abuse is when someone either hurts a child or puts the child in physical danger. A widespread misconception is that physical abuse has to leave marks. This is false.  Hitting, kicking, and biting are all forms of physical abuse that leave marks. However, shaking a child or holding them underwater will not leave a mark, but is still definitely abuse.

Sexual

Sexual abuse consists of any kind of sexual activity with a child. Ay kind of sexual contact with a child falls under this category. This includes actions such as flashing, sexting, and even telling dirty jokes.

Emotional

Emotional abuse damages a child emotional and mental state. This type of abuse is the most difficult to define. However, actions such as ignoring the child, belittling or bullying a child, or screaming all qualify as emotional abuse.

Neglect

Neglect occurs when a caregiver does not provide the basics necessary for a child to live. Not providing clothing, food, housing or necessary medical care are all common signs of neglect. Additionally, leaving small children alone for long stretches of time with no older supervision falls under this category.

Symptoms of Abuse

Physical

  • Unusual and/or constant bruises and welts.
  • Consistent burns.
  • Avoidance of touch or physical contact.
  • Fear of returning home.
  • Covering up in a way that is atypical for the weather and is not for spiritual purpose.

Sexual

  • Problems with genitals, such as bruising, pain, or itching.
  • Sexual activities or knowledge of sexual activities too advanced for their age.
  • Rebellious behavior, including running away from home.
  • Pregnancy or STDs at or before 14 years of age.

Emotional

  • Concerned with impressing or appeasing adults in their life.
  • Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
  • Lack the ability to connect with their caregivers as well as their peers.
  • Behavioral issues.
  • Delays in learning or mental and emotional development.

Neglect

  • Clothes and hair are rarely clean.
  • The child references being left alone often or being watched by children barely older than them.
  • When given a regular serving of food, they’ll eat more than usual. Additionally, they tend to hide part of a meal to save it for later.
  • Missing a lot of school.
  • Small for their age.