Detecting Child Abuse

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's not easy for a child to speak out about being abused. Child advocate, Jeanine Harper, says children are often ashamed and blame themselves for abuse.

"Many times children are frightened to tell what's happened because there maybe retribution, they don't want something bad to happen to the caregiver. They love this person," said Harper of SCAN, Stop Child Abuse Now.

Child abuse breaks down four ways. Physical neglect is most common - lack of adequate food, clothing, hygiene, and there's abandonment. A neglected child will show constant hunger, frequently miss school, and beg and steal from others.

The second most common is physical abuse.

"If a child has a bruise on their shin they probably fell. But if they have finger marks or slaps on their face or burns or welts, then it's primarily can be suspected it maybe abuse and neglect," said Harper.

A physically abused child may show aggression, and be afraid to go home.

"Often time children that have been hurt will flinch or they'll move away from their caregiver," said Harper.

The hardest to tell is sexual abuse - indecent exposure, incest, child porn and fondling.

Indicators include difficulty walking or sitting, torn or stained underwear, and bruises or bleeding in the private area.

"It's really rare a child will come forward on their own, it's usually because a friend and the friend told their parent or an adult in their life becomes aware of it," said Harper.

And there's emotional abuse - lack of attention and affection can lead a child to develop eating disorders, extreme behaviors and is usually in conjunction with the other three types of abuse.

If you think you know a child who is being abused you can call the Virginia hotline at 1-800-552-7096. You can remain anonymous.

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