Signs of Child Abuse

 According to the Texas Family Code...


Physical injuries may point to abuse when:

It's hard to see how they could have been caused by an accident. Suspicious injuries include:

Injuries that have a pattern, such as a straight line or a circle.

Injuries to areas of the body that usually are protected, such as the inside of the legs and arms, the back, the genitals, and the buttocks.

The explanation for the injury changes. Or it's not a believable explanation.

There are signs that the child has been hurt before.

The child doesn't receive medical care for his or her injury.

Suspect Neglect When You See:

Obvious malnourishment

Lack of personal cleanliness

Torn or dirty clothing

Stealing or begging for food

Child unattended for long periods of time

Need for glasses, dental care, or other medical attention

Frequent tardiness or absence from school

Suspect Sexual Abuse When You See:

Physical signs of sexually transmitted diseases

Evidence of injury to the genital area

Pregnancy in a young girl

Difficulty in sitting or walking

Extreme fear of being alone with adults of a certain sex

Sexual comments, behaviors or play

Knowledge of sexual relations beyond what is expected for a child’s age

Sexual victimization of other children

Suspect Emotional Abuse When You See:

Over compliance

Low self-esteem

Severe depression, anxiety, or aggression

Difficulty making friends or doing things with other children

Lagging in physical, emotional, and intellectual development

Caregiver who belittles the child, withholds love, and seems unconcerned about the child’s problems

Other signs:


  • Slower-than-normal development. The child does not show the abilities and skills normally found in other children the same age, such as starting to talk or socialize with others. Some children regress, which means they slip backward, losing skills they had before.

  • Failure to thrive. This is a term that means the child isn't gaining weight or height the way he or she should. Although this can be caused by a medical problem, it can also be a sign that the child is not being well cared for.

  • Unusual interaction with a parent. The parent may not be interested in the child. Or the child may be constantly trying not to upset the parent. The child may actually be afraid of the parent.

  • Mental health problems, such as having low self-esteemanxietydepression, or thoughts of suicide.

  • Suddenly getting lower grades in school.

  • Behaving in a way that isn't appropriate or that causes problems. In a young child, this could mean being unusually fussy, being afraid, or not being interested in activities. Children often act out what they have seen or experienced, such as violence or sexual activity. Older children may act out in unusual ways, such as having sex, fighting, using drugs, or running away.