Child abuse is a tragedy — and a crime — that can affect children years after their bruises and bones have healed. Even verbal abuse or neglect can have long-lasting effects on kids.
However, children who receive help early have a greater chance of healing both physically and mentally. Do you know how to intervene when you suspect that a child is being abused? Study the warning signs below and the actions you should take when you see them.
Warning signs of possible child abuse
First, you’ll want to be sure you fully understand the warning signs of child abuse. This will help you determine whether or not you should take action.
To be honest, child abuse is not always easy for outsiders to see, unfortunately. In fact, in most cases, you may not see any outward physical signs of abuse. Bruises, welts, or other visible marks of slaps, kicks, or punches are not always going to be apparent.
Such being the case, you need to be aware of other warning signs of possible abuse, including those listed below:
Frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries
Extreme change in behavior
Poor hygiene and lack of self-esteem
Loss of interest in familiar activities
Excessive fear of adults
Aggression toward pets or other children
Inappropriate sexual behavior
Call the authorities
If you notice a child repeatedly exhibiting any of the warning signs listed above, you should call the proper authorities. In most cases, this will be your local Department of Social Services’ Child Protection Agency. However, you can also phone the local police department, Child Help USA, or any crisis centers that may be in your area.
In emergency situations, it’s strongly recommended that you call your police department. Law enforcement officers can ensure the immediate safety of the child and seek medical attention for him or her, if necessary.
When you’re wondering whether you should report a suspected case of child abuse, always remember that it is much better to play it safe: report it and let the truth be established by an official investigation.
Information you will need to provide
While there are many reasons people may be hesitant to report suspected child abuse, one of the main ones is that they do not want their identity revealed and in the open. Fortunately, when you report suspected child abuse, you can remain totally anonymous.
There is some information you will need to provide, however. When you report a suspicious matter, be ready to supply the following details:
Name/s of the parent/s and home address
Detailed description of your concerns
Child’s first name, age, gender, and school of attendance
If you know of a child you think is being abused or neglected, it’s your responsibility to intervene right away. The best method of intervention is to phone the proper authorities as described above.
Even if you’re not 100 percent positive that the child is suffering abuse, you should act. You very well may be saving that child’s life.