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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Child abuse, how to deal?

Child abuse, how to deal?

Child abuse can be in the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, either ignoring or rejecting the child. It is charecterized by various changes in behavior or school performance.

Child abuse takes many forms:

  • Physical abuse: Physical child abuse occurs when a child is purposefully injured. Physical abuse can be an act of direct physical harm or an act of omission that leads to injury.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual child abuse is any sexual activity with a child, including fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse and exposure to child pornography.
  • Emotional abuse. Emotional child abuse includes verbal and emotional assault — such as continually belittling or berating a child — as well as isolating, ignoring or rejecting a child.
  • Neglect: Child neglect is failure to provide a child adequate food, shelter, affection, supervision or medical care.
  • A child who's being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent or other loved one.

That's why it's vital to watch for red flags, such as:

  • Sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
  • Untreated medical or dental problems.
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or other injuries.
  • Blood in the child's underwear.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior for the child's age.
  • Behavior extremes, from overly aggressive to unusually passive.
  • Nightmares or unusual fears.
  • Withdrawal from friends or usual activities.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Frequent absences from school.

Sometimes a parent's demeanor or behavior also sends red flags about child abuse. Warning signs include a parent who:

  • Shows little concern for the child.
  • Denies the existence of problems at home or school, or blames the child for the problems.
  • Refuses offers of help to resolve problems at school.
  • Consistently blames, belittles or berates the child.
  • Describes the child with negative terms.
  • Uses harsh physical discipline or asks teachers to do so.
  • Demands an inappropriate level of physical or academic performance.
  • Severely limits the child's contact with other children.
  • Offers conflicting or unconvincing explanations for a child's injuries, or no explanation at all.

Risk factors:

Child abuse occurs across all socioeconomic levels and ethnic groups. For parents and other caregivers, factors that may increase the risk of becoming abusive include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor impulse control
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Marital conflict
  • Domestic violence
  • Financial stress
  • Social isolation


Some children overcome the physical and psychological effects of child abuse, particularly those who have high self-esteem, an optimistic attitude and strong social support. For others, however, child abuse has lifelong consequences. For example, child abuse may lead to:

  • Physical disabilities.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Depression.
  • Difficulty establishing or maintaining relationships.
  • Challenges with intimacy and trust.
  • An unhealthy view of parenthood.
  • Anxiety.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Personality disorders.
  • Delinquent or violent behavior.
  • Alcoholism or other forms of substance abuse.
  • A history of mistreatment as a child.