Signs of Abuse


  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the United States.
  • 1 in 6 boys & 1 in 3 girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 78% of victims are abused by a family member/ 90% of abused children will know their perpetrator.
  • 60% of child abuse cases are never reported.
  • 4 children die every day as a result of child abuse.
  • Child abuse ranks as the second leading cuase of death for children ages 1 to 5.

*ABUSE = inflicts substantial risk of physical injury, commits or allows to be committed any sex offense against a child, commits or allows to be committed an act or acts of torture upon a child, inflicts excessive corporal punishment

Indicators of Sexual Abuse:

The following indicators are listed with gentle warning. These behaviors are often considered to be a result of abuse but many can also be a sign of stress in the family, school, etc. Please use caution when considering indicators of abuse.

A child may exhibit behaviors such as:

  • Abrupt change in behavior or personality/sudden problems in school
  • Sudden fear of someone with whom the child was formerly OK
  • Unusual irriatability, aggression, anger or severe mood swings
  • Wearing many layers of clothing regardless of the weather
  • Seductive clothing or mannerisms
  • Acting out sexually with siblings or peers
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Unusual interest in and/or knowledge of sexual acts
  • Sexual language which is inappropriate for a child's developmental level
  • Elevated anxiety or appearing overwhelmed with responsibilites
  • Regression of behavior to a younger developmental level
  • Overly compliant or docile
  • Compulsive behaviors (hoarding, constant washing, rocking)
  • Depression, suicidal threats or gestures or self mutilating behaviors
  • Extreme changes in eating patterns (refusing to eat or binging and purging)
  • Change in sleep patterns (nightmares, bedwetting, insomnia)

A child may have physical indicators such as:

  • Evidence of physical trauma or bleeding in the oral, genital of anal areas
  • Complaints of pain or itching in the oral, genital or anal areas
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Unusual or offensive odors
  • Torn or stained clothing
  • Evidence of sexually transmitted disease

Remember this is not a check list to determine if your child has been a victim of sexual abuse. If your child exhibits indicators listed above, respond calmly. Let your child tell you about any problems she/he is having but do not repeatedly question your child. Encourage your child to simply tell you the truth. Contact the appropriate authorities to report your suspicion or any disclosure your child may make. If you have questions or concerns, and would like assistance, contact the CAC at (618)277-1134