The reason many perpetrators get away with this is that their small victims are often not able to express themselves under the psychological and physical stress of abuse. It is imperative that as parents we not only educate our kids about good touch and bad touch but are also quick to notice and recognise signs of abuse in children.
There are instances where adults might sense that a child is being abused, but they don’t possess enough evidence to report it to the authorities. The sensible school of thought is to notify the authorities and let them subtly investigate the matter. It does not matter if the hunch proves to be wrong. However, if it turns out to be true, you will end up saving the child from abject trauma.
The below-mentioned indicators of abuse/neglect help you to assess your child’s mental and physical state to make informed, appropriate decisions.
Signs of Physical Abuse:
- Unexplained bruises on the face, buttocks, thighs or lower back, especially in unusual patterns suggesting usage of an instrument such as a belt buckle or an electric wire or chord. These might occur post long leaves or vacations.
- Unexplained burns, such as cigarette burns on palms, abdomen, thighs etc. Any kind of burns or marks on the buttocks or the genital area.
- Extreme regression, aggression, or depression
- Fear of caretaker or parent
- Fear of going to school/home/or a particular place
- Wariness and fear of physical contact
- Incessantly surveys surroundings while addressing or talking to someone
Signs of Sexual Abuse:
- Stained, bloody, or torn clothes
- Unexplained and frequent sore throats, yeast or urinary infections
- Frequent pain and irritation of the genitals
- Bruises from genitalia, vagina or anal region
- Behaviours such as bedwetting and fear of the dark
- Nightmares and disturbed sleep patterns
- Apprehensive, unusual, and age inappropriate questions in sexual matters
- Avoids undressing
- Sudden decline in performance at school or sports
- Difficulty showcased while walking or sitting
Signs of Emotional Abuse:
- Eating disorders
- Stuttering and stammering
- Delay in developing motor skills or speech
- Below normal growth
- Rashes, tics, stomach aches and other nervous disorders
- Constant biting, head banging, etc
- Derives pleasure from hurting others
- Extremes such as overly demanding, aggressive, excitable
It is very rare that children suppress and become stoic about their troubles. But what they do instead, is the retreat and close themselves off or express their pain by acting out.
While we should teach children to be communicative about their issues, it is also necessary for us to develop a sense of keen observation, to notice subtle differences in their behaviour. Even the slightest changes can be a window into their tender psyche. Let’s be alert to ensure our precious charges remain safe.