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Identifying Child Abuse

A child who has been physically abused may:

  • Cry and put up a fight when it is time to go to the caregiver or appear frightened around the caregiver or other adults.

  • Come home with unexplained bruises, abrasions, burns, broken bones, black eyes, cuts, bite marks, or other injuries.

  • Repeated injuries of any type can be a warning sign.


A child who has been shaken may show signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) including:

  • Glassy-eyed, appear rigid, lethargic, irritable, have a decreased appetite, have difficulty feeding, vomiting, unable to focus eyes on an object, unable to lift head.

  • In severe cases of SBS, your child may have difficulty breathing, or seizures, heart failure, coma, and unconsciousness.

  • If you suspect your baby is suffering from SBS, call 911 right away.

  • Every moment counts in terms of the damage a baby with SBS will suffer.


A baby who has been emotionally abused may:

  • Display behavioral problems or changes such as shunning a parent’s affections.

  • Or, alternately, become excessively clingy.

  • Have a loss of appetite.

  • Have nightmares or trouble sleeping.


A baby who has been sexually abused may:

  • Have bleeding or bruises in or around the genital area.

  • Have difficulty sitting, possibly because of genital or anal pain.

  • Suffer from urinary tract infections.


If you have any concerns about the possibility of your child being abused in any way, do not delay action. The sooner you address the problem, the better for your child. If you suspect that your child may have been abused call the statewide hotline 1-800-962-2873.

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