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Indicators of Abuse

Please remember that none of these signs are diagnostic of child abuse, but simply red flags of concern.

Physical Abuse

Any non-accidental injury to a minor, giving or allowing controlled substances to a minor, and/or allowing a perpetrator to have access to the child.

  • Unexplained marks, bruises, cuts, fractures, and/or dislocations on the body

  • Bruises/welts in various stages of healing, in clusters or patterns in the shape of an object

  • Injury that is not consistent with explanation from caregiver, sibling and/or child

  • Extreme fear of parents/caregivers

  • Frequent absences in school, counseling or other appointments

  • Aggressive, disruptive, destructive

Sexual Abuse

Any contact or interaction with a minor being used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person that includes sexual penetration, sexual molestation, and/or sexual exploitation.

  • Discharge, recurring pain, or itching in genital or anal areas

  • Genital injury

  • Difficulty walking or sitting

  • Unusual and offensive odors

  • Sexual knowledge beyond what is age appropriate – “acting out”

  • Unexplained regression or fear

  • Bedwetting

  • Self-harm

  • Child has a secret they cannot tell

  • Fear of restrooms, showers, or baths


Occurs when a parent or caretaker fails to provide for a child’s physical, medical, and educational needs such as inadequate supervision, abandonment, medical care/attention, food, shelter, and/or clothing.

  • Underweight, poor growth, failure to thrive

  • Poor hygiene

  • Dressed inappropriately for the weather

  • Begs, hoards, or steals food

  • Erratic attendance at school

  • Noticeable developmental delays

Witness to Domestic Violence

When a minor sees or hears any person commit homicide, domestic battery, or assault on a family member or household member.

  • Headaches/stomachaches

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Signs of anxiety, short attention span, withdrawal

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Violent outbursts

  • Developmental delays in speech, motor, or cognitive skills

Human Trafficking

Any minor induced into commercial sex—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

  • Unexplained physical injuries

  • Signs of drug addiction

  • Sudden change in attire and/or material possessions

  • Runaway

  • Frequent absences at school

  • Mentions having an “older boyfriend”

  • Hyperarousal (chronic state of fight or flight)

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