Child Protective Services

Protective Services

Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect occurs when a child is mistreated, resulting in injury or risk of harm. Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. Below are some signs of child abuse and neglect.

Physical Abuse

Unexplained Bruises and Welts

  • On face, lips, mouth
  • On torso, back, buttocks, thighs
  • In various stages of healing
  • Clustered, forming regular pattern
  • Reflecting shape of article used to inflict; electric cord or belt buckle
  • On several different surface areas; regularly appear after absence, weekend or vacation

Unexplained Burns

  • Cigar, cigarette burns, especially on soles, palms, back or buttocks
  • Immersion burns; sock-like, glove-like, doughnut shaped on buttocks or genitalia, patterned like electric burner, iron
  • Rope burns on arms, legs, neck or torso

Unexplained Fractures

  • To skull, nose, facial structure in various stages of healing
  • Multiple or spiral fractures

Unexplained Lacerations or Abrasions

  • To mouth, lips, gums, eyes
  • To external genitalia

Behavioral Indicators

  • Wary of adult contacts 
  • Apprehensive when other children cry
  • Behavioral extremes; aggressiveness or withdrawal
  • Frightened of parents
  • Afraid to go home
  • Reports injury by parents

Physical Neglect

Physical Indicators

  • Consistent hunger
  • Poor hygiene
  • Inappropriate dress for the elements
  • Consistent lack of supervision, especially in dangerous activities for long periods of time
  • Unattended physical problems or medical needs
  • Abandonment

Behavioral Indicators

  • Begging, stealing food
  • Extended stays at school; early arrival and late departure
  • Constant fatigue, listlessness or falling asleep in class
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Delinquency; thefts
  • States there is no caretaker

Sexual Abuse

Physical Indicators

  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vaginal or anal areas
  • Venereal disease, especially in pre-teens
  • Pregnancy

Behavioral Indicators

  • Unwilling to change for gym or participate in physical education class
  • Withdrawal, fantasy or bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Delinquent or runaway behavior
  • Reports sexual assault by caretaker

Emotional Abuse

Physical Indicators

  • Speech disorders
  • Lags in physical development
  • Failure to thrive

Behavioral Indicators

  • Habit disorders: sucking, biting, rocking
  • Conduct disorders: antisocial, destructive
  • Neurotic traits: sleep disorders, inhibited play
  • Psychoneurotic reactions: hysteria, obsession, compulsion, phobias, hypochondria
  • Behavior extremes: compliant, passive or aggressive, demanding
  • Overly adaptive behavior: inappropriately adult or inappropriately infant
  • Developmental lags: mental, emotional
  • Attempted suicide