Warning Signs of Potential Abuse
Any one sign does not mean that the child was abused. Some of the behaviors below can show up during stressful times in a child's life, as well as when abuse occurs. If you see several of these signs in a child you know well, please begin to ask questions.
- Nightmares, trouble sleeping, fear of the dark, or other sleeping problems
- Extreme fear of "monsters".
- Spacing out at times.
- Loss of appetite or trouble eating or swallowing.
- Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, anger, or withdraw.
- Fear of certain people or places. For example: a child may not want to be left alone with a babysitter, a friend, a relative, or some other child or adult; or a child who is usually talkative & cheery may become quiet & distant when around a certain person.
- Stomach illness all of the time with no identifiable reason.
- An older child behaving like a younger child, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.
- Sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children/siblings to behave sexually.
- New words for private body parts.
- Refusing to talk about a "secret" he/she has with an adult or older child.
- Talking about a new older friend.
- Suddenly having money.
- Cutting or burning herself or himself as an adolescent.