Child Protective Workers Reveal The Signs Of Child Abuse We Should Look Out For

Child Protective Workers Reveal The Signs Of Child Abuse We Should Look Out For



Child protective workers have an emotionally taxing job.

They know it––and the information they shared with us might just save a child's life.

THE SIGNS (1/10)

Babyish behaviors or displaying the emotional development of younger children. This is often in distinct contrast from what may be an otherwise intelligent child who is well developed in other ways. These behaviors can include thumb sucking/keeping other objects in the mouth, rocking back and forth, baby talk, wetting or soiling themselves past age 5, throwing tantrums, attachment to blankets/toys and carrying them around. These behaviors can still be seen in abused children who are in their late teens.


THE SIGNS (2/10)

Acting out sexually and engaging in sexual behaviors and acts with other kids. Now mind you, "exploring" and "playing doctor" is normal for all kids, but abused kids...know what they're doing. Two healthy kids might just touch each other a little and realize "hey they feels good", but have no idea wtf they're doing. An abused child may literally bring another child to orgasm or instruct the other child how to do it to them and know how to perform specific sex acts like oral sex or sexual positions. I've even heard of sexually abused children engaging in what I can only call BDSM-esque behaviors together.


THE SIGNS (3/10)

One especially disturbing pattern I've noticed is abusers calling things cutesy names or calling abuse the names of established games so that if the child talks about it nothing will be suspected. If you hear a child is afraid if a certain game or acts strangely when others suggest a game. And just for reference some of the examples of this I've heard include "tag" and "Clue". Or other random words that other children might like. I once told a child I had a "surprise" for her (it was a cookie monster bowl for her ice cream) and she burst into tears and said she didn't want a "surprise". Didn't take much to figure out what that must've meant...

Also look out for any play styles that appear off, especially dolls and stuffed animals. If anything appears overly sexual, abusive, neglectful, or involves a lot of alcohol and drugs that's a big sign.

Look at their drawings. (This one is NOT fool proof as art ability and style varies greatly among kids but if you see this along with other signs it might indicate something). Do they draw parents or adults with really mean faces, large hands, accentuated breasts/genitals, without clothing, drastically larger or smaller than the child's self drawings? Most things subtle but if you see something pretty obvious (once saw a drawing of child and parent and it was literally the two of them naked and the parent with a horribly mean face), save the drawing and report it.



THE SIGNS (4/10)

Bruising in odd places. Behind the ears, under the chin, finger marks on the cheek, arms or legs. Fearful reaction to normal events. One mental health therapist told me that abuse is like being bitten by a snake. You become fearful of all snakes, and anything that looks like a snake, including hoses. Watch for kids who panic over everyday things. They melt down and scream in a way that shows they are terrified when you serve oatmeal. Maybe they were force fed oatmeal. It's a trigger. They can't be in a dark room with no windows. Maybe they were locked in a closet.


THE SIGNS (5/10)

I interned with a domestic violence attorney and several friends and family work in child welfare. Besides the obvious like violence, mood swings, depression:

  • Premature or bizarre sexualization is a huge red flag for any abuse.
  • Hoarding food.
  • If they are really avoidant or conciliatory, they've had to learn how to diffuse domestic bombs.

That's all I can remember but mostly you can just tell. Not to say these are bad or unfixable kids, far from it, but there's something fundamental that's permanently broken in them. There's some light that's gone out and you can see it in their eyes. Kids only get one childhood.



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