The Universal Child Abuse Signs That You Should Know About

Child abuse is on the rise around the world. However, the reality is that child abuse if not usually detected until it’s almost too late. With many children unaware  of their rights, especially here in Kenya, many will not say a word. Worse is that many will become scared that if their abuser finds out, things might turn out worse. In other situations, children might not be able to know that what is happening to them is child abuse. With child abuse effects short and long term, here are different types of child abuse:

  • Physical Abuse

Physical child abuse is when a child is purposefully injured or placed in physical harm by another person. The person is usually a parent, guardian or a temporary place of residence for a child such as a daycare.

          Signs of Physical Abuse

Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include:

  1. Violent behavior
  2. Unexplainable Injuries such as fractured, bruises even burns
  3. Injuries and explanations do not match 
  • Sexual Abuse

This involves any type of sexual activity with a child. It can be intercourse, exposure to pornography, oral-genital contact and fondling.

          Signs of Sexual Abuse

There are numerous ways to tell when your child is being or has been sexually abused. These include: 

  1. Absurd nightmares detailing sexual encounters
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Sexually transmitted diseases
  4. Bloody underwear
  5. Inappropriate sexual contact with adults and other children
  6. Sexual knowledge unsuitable for child’s age
  • Medical Abuse

This occurs when a child is denied proper medical attention that fits the injury. False information about the illness or injury can be offered to put the child in more significant risk. Disease and injury not taken care of properly even in the presence of other people.

           Signs and Symptoms of Medical Abuse

  1. Lack of communication from the child even when they are sick
  2. Restraining themselves from speaking of the extent of the injury when asked to
  3. Child not getting better repeatedly on common illnesses over some time
  4. Extremely underweight or overweight
  5. No follow up care from previous care
  6. Poor hygiene
  7. Lack of concentration or absent-mindedness
  • Emotional Abuse

This is harm caused to a child’s state of mind, self-esteem and general well being. Acts of ignoring, rejecting, insulting, rebuking, belittling or even isolating a child can all lead to their emotional distress. It’s important to note also that all other types of abuse can greatly contribute to emotional abuse.

       Signs of Emotional Abuse

Here are the signs you can look out for to know if your child could be suffering the effects of emotional abuse

  1. Depression
  2. Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
  3. Delayed emotional development
  4. Seeks additional attention desperately
  5. Loss of interest in things children their age would love
  6. Loss of interest to go to school or go outside
  7. Loss of development skills previously acquired
  • Parental Abuse

Parental behavior can also be sign of child abuse. You can look closely at how the child interacts to determine if parents don’t care about them.

         Signs and Symptoms of Parental Abuse

Signs of parental abuse come in clusters and looking out for two or more symptoms is vital.

  1. Clinginess
  2. Saving food
  3. Crying and refusing parents
  4. Negligence
  5. Poor hygiene
  6. Poverty

Can You Tell when The Nanny Is Abusing Your Baby?

When a child is below one year old, they have limited communication abilities. However, as a parent you can still know if they are being abused if their behavior deviates from what is normal. This includes; 

  1. Crying hysterically when handed to nanny
  2. Becoming uneasy and restless when you are out of sight
  3. Crying and demanding attention from you as soon as you walk in


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: mayoclinic, pregnancybirthbaby, nspcc, childmatters

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