Child Abuse

Warning signs of Abuse

Recognize the warning signs. The behavior of children may signal abuse or neglect long before any change in physical appearance.

Abused children may seem:

  • Nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults
  • Reluctant to go home (coming to school early or staying late)
  • Passive and withdrawn
  • Aggressive and disruptive
  • Frequently tired (may complain of nightmares or not sleeping well)
  • Fearful and anxious

Pay attention to the risk factors. Child abuse and neglect occur in all segments of our society, but the risk is greater in isolated families and those where parents have problems with drugs or alcohol.

Long-term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 683,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2015. Texas children accounted for more than 63,700 of those reported victims. While physical injuries may or may not be immediately visible, abuse and neglect can have consequences for children, families, and society that last lifetimes, if not generations.

This fact sheet provides an overview of some of the most common physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect, while acknowledging that much crossover among categories exists.

Effects of Abuse on the Brain
Trauma is a major reason why abused children are more likely to become depressed, suicidal, aggressive, anxious, hyperactive, and impulsive. The traumatized brain can become chemically “sensitized” to danger, making the abused child more reactive, hyper vigilant, and constantly on alert for danger in the environment. Read more about the effects of abuse on the brain.

What Are the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse?
The effects of sexual abuse extend far beyond childhood. Sexual abuse creates a loss of trust, feelings of guilt, and self-abusive behavior. It effectively robs children of their childhood and it can lead to antisocial behavior, depression, identity confusion, loss of self-esteem, as well as other serious emotional problems. Sexual abuse can also lead to difficulty with intimate relationships later in life. The National Center for Victims of Crime has more information on the effects of childhood sexual abuse.

Did You Know?

In 2015, a total of 1,585 fatalities resulting from child maltreatment were reported in the U.S.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More than 3.6 million referrals involving more than 6.6 million children are made to child protection agencies every year.

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