The following are a few of the physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse and neglect.

Physical Abuse

  1. Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
  2. Bite marks
  3. Antisocial behavior
  4. Problems in school
  5. Fear of adults

Emotional Abuse

  1. Apathy
  2. Depression
  3. Hostility or stress
  4. Lack of concentration
  5. Eating disorders

Sexual Abuse

  1. Inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts
  2. Nightmares and bed wetting
  3. Drastic changes in appetite
  4. Overcompliance or excessive aggression
  5. Fear of a particular person or family member


  1. Unsuitable clothing for weather
  2. Dirty or unbathed
  3. Extreme hunger
  4. Apparent lack of supervision

For a more extensive list of the signs of abuse, call the Childhelp USA? National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD?


Please note that the listed indicators in each category may pertain to more than one type of abuse or neglect. For example, "lack of concentration" could be a sign of sexual abuse, as well as emotional abuse. Those indicated in bold lettering tend to be the most common signs and symptoms.

Copyright ? 2005, Childhelp Inc. All rights reserved.

Originally published on, July 2005.

Healthy Kid