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Child Abuse and Neglect

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Discuss how to recognize child abuse and neglect. What are the specific signs and symptoms that you would recognize in the child and the parent-child relationship?

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Discusses how to recognize child abuse and neglect in terms of the specific signs and symptoms that a person would recognize in the child and the parent-child relationship.

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Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms (2003)


The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family; however, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination you should take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse.

If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and get help for the family. Contact your local child protective services agency or police department.

Recognizing Child Abuse

The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.

The Child:

1. Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
2. Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention.
3. Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes.
4. Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen.
5. Lacks adult supervision.
6. Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn.
7. Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home.

The Parent:

1. Shows little concern for the child.
2. Denies the existence of-or blames the ...

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