I could never in a million years abuse a child, but I know that there are bad people in this world that do. As responsible, well-meaning individuals that don’t abuse kids, it’s our job to know the signs of abuse and step in and help a child that is in a vulnerable position.

A lot of times, I think people tend to look the other way, either because they don’t want to believe that abuse is taking place or because they want to ‘mind their own business,’ but the thing is, when it comes to kids it is YOUR BUSINESS. Not only is it your business, but it’s also your responsibility to step in and try to figure out what is going on. The best and easiest way to help the children is to stay empowered with knowledge. Learn what the signs of abuse are, and step in when it’s necessary to help. Here are 7 signs of emotional and physical abuse and what to do when you notice them.

1. They are skittish about adults.

A child that has been abused will be skittish around adults. They may seem fearful to the point of not talking around adults. And in some cases, they may even hide from adults.

2. Sudden movements make them flinch.

Children who have been abused will flinch or withdraw when you move towards them suddenly. Loud noises may make them shudder in fear. And the slightest indication of any type of conflict will make them seem terrified.

3. They won’t look adults in the eye.

Additionally, children who have been abused will be anxious to look an adult in the eyes. Instead, they may intentionally look away from adults or completely try to hide away from them.

4. Their clothes are ill-fitting and worn out.

Abused children or neglected children will oftentimes have tattered clothing. Their clothing may not fit and will likely be dirty. And they may not wear seasonally appropriate clothing.

5. They have unexplained wounds.

If you notice bruises, cuts, fractures, and other wounds that are unexplainable, this is a sign of abuse. When asked, the child may brush it off like it’s no big deal or acts as though they don’t know what happened. When the parent is asked, they will make a weird excuse like, “They fell down the stairs.”

6. They are aggressive towards other kids or animals.

Abuse can end up teaching children to be violent or causing them to act out violently because of what they have been exposed to. Children who have been abused will act aggressively towards children or animals, likely because they are repeating the abuse that has occurred towards them. Even if this isn’t the case, if a child appears to be abusive towards animals and small kids, it’s best to step in and say something.

7. The child is developmentally behind.

Children who have been abused or neglected will likely be developmentally behind. They may not be able to speak properly or socialize in the ways that other kids their age can. Or, they may not be able to walk/ or use the potty when it is way pastime for them to have been taught.

What To Do If You Suspect Abuse

If you recognize the signs of abuse, it’s time to step in. First and foremost, if a child is telling you they are being abused, listen to them. Don’t shut them down. Allow them to talk to you. If you notice the signs of abuse on your own, and you suspect the child is in danger, you should contact authorities immediately. You can do so anonymously by calling your local child services or by dialing 911.

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