How to Recognize Signs of Child Abuse

More than 200 children died at the hands of their parents or caregivers, and more than 64,000 children were abused or neglected in Texas last year. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services preventive program (www.helpandhope.org) provides helpful information for families and those working with families. We can all reduce the terrible toll of child abuse by listening to children and learning the signs of child abuse.

Children who are abused might show physical signs or sudden changes in their behavior or school performance. These signs don't prove that children are being abused, but they could be a signal that the children or their families need help. General signs of abuse might include behaviors such as children that seem nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults, being reluctant to go home (coming to school early or staying late, for example). At times; children that have been physically abused may have unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes, or healing injuries after missing school.

Child abuse also happens in the form of neglect. The #1 reason a child is removed from their home or placed into foster care is neglect. Often children are hurt or mistreated when parents or caregivers are neglectful or absent.  Signs of neglect include: Missing school a lot, being frequently dirty, lacking needed medical or dental care, begging for food, stealing food, or stealing money for food. At times these children may say there is no one at home to take care of them. When children talk about being abused, take them seriously. Take steps to get help!

In Texas, you have two ways to report child abuse or neglect.

• 1-800-252-5400
 
Stacy Parker, Program Director, The Children's Home of Lubbock