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Warning Signs

Behavioral and Physical Warning Signs that a Child has been Abused:

Any one sign does not mean that the child was abused. Some of the behaviors below can show up during stressful times in a child's life, as well as when abuse occurs. If you see several of these signs in a child you know well, please begin to ask questions.

  • Nightmares, trouble sleeping, fear of the dark, or other sleeping problems.
  • Extreme fear of "monsters".
  • Spacing out at times.
  • Loss of appetite, or trouble eating or swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, anger, or withdrawl.
  • Fear of certain people or places. For example: a child may not want to be left alone with a baby-sitter, a friend, a relative, or some other child or adult; or a child who is usually talkative and cheery may become quiet and distant when around a certain person.
  • Stomach illness all of the time with no identifiable reason.
  • An older child behaving like a younger child, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.
  • Sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children / siblings to behave sexually.
  • New words for private body parts.
  • Refusing to talk about a "secret" he or she has with an adult or older child.
  • Talking about a new older friend.
  • Suddenly having money.
  • Cutting or burning herself or himself as an adolescent.
 


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