How To Recognize & Prevent Child Abuse - Signs & Symptoms
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Recognize & Prevent

Child Abuse Prevention - Sad Child
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Signs & Symptoms of
Child Abuse

New Fears

An abused child or teenager may develop new fears of situations, places, or people. They may become shy, anxious, scared or withdrawn.

Sleeping Patterns

The inability to sleep, difficulties staying asleep and/or nightmares may develop due to the trauma caused by abuse.

School Performance

Abuse may cause an inability for a child to concentrate, which can directly affect his/her school performance, grades and behavior.

Emotional Behaviors

Be aware of any emotional changes you may begin to see in your child that are outside the norm – whether it’s anger, frustration, shyness, etc.

Eating Habits

If abuse has occurred, a child may begin to show a disinterest in eating and a sudden loss of appetite or may cope by overeating.

Loss Of Boundaries

A child or teen may be overly friendly and attached to total strangers, tolerate abuse from other children or become overly obedient.

Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors

A child experiences a range of sexual behaviors depending on age. Any behaviors that are unusual for the child’s age range may be a sign of abuse.

Lack Of Personal Hygiene

Lack of personal hygiene can be a sign of neglect, including obvious malnourishment, consistently dirty clothes, attachment disorders and more.

Self Destructive

A child or teen may feel guilt and shame from abuse and begin hurting themselves; including hitting/cutting, drugs, alcohol or even a suicide attempt.

Do You Suspect Child Abuse? 1-800-252-5400 |

How to Prevent Child Abuse

Learn the Facts

1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

Recognize the Signs

Kids don’t always tell us they’re being abused. Learn the signs of abuse to help protect children from further harm.

Minimize Opportunity

Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations to decrease the risk for abuse. Abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families – this is called grooming.

React Responsibly

Understand how to respond to risky behaviors and suspicions or reports of abuse. Help children by giving them a voice.

Talk About It

Have open conversations with children about our bodies, sex and boundaries. Observe and listen to your child and let them know it’s ok to say “no” in uncomfortable situations.

Take the Next Step

The next step is to educate yourself on all forms of abuse. To learn specific strategies and tips, please visit our Education Services Page to sign up for a free prevention training.

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For additional information on preventing child abuse, explore our free child abuse prevention trainings.

Additional Resources to Help

The Center for Child Protection works with children and families referred by law enforcement and Child Protective Services. If you need assistance but have not been referred to the Center, please contact one of the organizations below to find out more about how they can help your family.