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Signs of Abuse

The following are signs commonly associated with abuse. This list is not intended to be comprehensive and the presence of these signs does not guarantee that abuse has occurred:

  • Comes to school early and stays late
  • Fear of adults
  • Are overly compliant, passive, withdrawn
  • Very aggressive, destructive
  • Frequent absences or tardiness from school
  • Suicide attempts or self-harm behaviors
  • Major changes in mood or behavior

1. Neglect; Neglect is the act of leaving a child without appropriate supervision and in a situation where the child is exposed to a substantial risk of harm and/or not meeting the needs of the child such as food, clothing, shelter, education or medical treatment. Definition taken from Arkansas Code, § 12-18-103.

  • Signs may include:
  • Constantly hungry
  • Consistent lack of personal hygiene or tattered clothing
  • Very small or thin for their age
  • Begging or stealing food
  • Emaciated
  • Lack of supervision for extended periods
  • Often tired or falling asleep during the day
  • Appears lonely and has a desperate need for attention
  • Need for glasses, dental work, or other medical needs not being addressed.

2. Physical Abuse; Physical abuse is defined as injury or threat of injury to the child by the child’s caregiver. This includes an injury that is at variance with the explanation given and excludes injuries sustained from a reasonable accident or appropriate discipline.  This can also include failure to protect the child from injury reasonably. Definition taken from Arkansas Code, § 12-18-103. 

Signs may include:

  • Unexplained bruises; bruises of different ages; bruises where the explanation doesn’t match what you see
  • Cigarette burns; patterned burns (like an iron); burns that cover an entire foot or hand
  • Unexplained broken bones
  • Runs away
  • Wears concealing clothes

3. Sexual Abuse; Sexual abuse is sexual conduct including, but not limited to indecency with a minor, sexual assault, encouraging a minor to engage in sexual conduct, photographing, filming, or depicting the child in an obscene or pornographic manner or permitting the making of the content. It also includes the failure to make reasonable efforts to prevent such abuse. Definition taken from Arkansas Code, § 12-18-103.

Signs may include:

  • Advanced sexual knowledge for their age or inappropriate sex play
  • Excessive masturbation or seductiveness
  • Age-regressive behaviors (sucking thumb, bed-wetting…)
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Torn or bloody underwear
  • Bruises or bleeding of the genitalia or genital pain and itching
  • Extreme fear of being left alone with adults
  • Sexual victimization of other children

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