Home / Appendices / APPENDIX D: Physical and Behavioral Signs of Abuse and Neglect

Home / Appendices / APPENDIX D: Physical and Behavioral Signs of Abuse and Neglect

APPENDIX D: Physical and Behavioral Signs of Abuse and Neglect

Physical and Behavioral Indicators of Abuse*

Type of AbusePhysical IndicatorsBehavioral Indicators
Physical Abuse● Unexplained bruises (in various
stages of healing)
● Unexplained burns, especially
cigarette burns or immersion burns
● Unexplained fractures, lacerations
or abrasions
● Swollen areas
● Evidence of delayed or
inappropriate treatment for injuries
● Self destructive
● Withdrawn and/or aggressive – behavioral extremes
● Arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to be at home
● Chronic runaway (adolescents)
● Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably
● Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body
● Bizarre explanation of injuries
● Wary of adult contact
Neglect● Abandonment
● Unattended medical needs
● Consistent lack of supervision
● Consistent hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene
● Lice, distended stomach, emaciated
● Inadequate nutrition
● Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class
● Steals food, begs from classmates
● Reports that no caretaker is at home
● Frequently absent or tardy
● Self destructive
● School dropout (adolescents)
● Extreme loneliness and need for affection
Sexual AbuseSexual abuse may be non-touching: obscene language, pornography, exposure – or touching: fonding, molesting, oral sex, intercourse
● Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
● Pain, swelling or itching in genital area
● Difficulty walking or sitting
● Bruises or bleeding in genital area
● Venereal disease
● Frequent urinary or yeast infections
● Excessive seductiveness
● Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
● Massive weight change
● Suicide attempts (especially adolescents)
● Inappropriate sex play or premature understanding of sex
● Threatened by physical contact, closeness
Emotional AbusemmmmEmotional abuse may be name-calling,
put-downs, etc. or it may be terrorization,
isolation, humiliation, rejection, corruption, ignoring
● Speech disorders
● Delayed physical development
● Substance abuse
● Ulcers, asthma, severe allergies
● Habit disorder (sucking, rocking, biting)
● Antisocial, destructive
● Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, inhibition of play)
● Passive and aggressive – behavioral extremes
● Delinquent behavior (especially adolescents)
● Developmentally delayed

* From the Handbook on Child Safety for Independent School Leaders, by A. Rizzuto and C. Crosson-Tower, Copyright 2012, Reprinted with permission from the National Association of Independent Schools.


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