Office of Children and Family Services

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Child Protective Services

Signs of Child Abuse or Maltreatment

(En EspaƱol)


The lists below contain common indicators of abuse or maltreatment. The lists are not all-inclusive, and some abused or maltreated children may not show any of these symptoms.

Indicators of physical abuse can include the following:

  • Injuries to the eyes or both sides of the head or body (accidental injuries typically affect only one side of the body)
  • Frequently appearing injuries such as bruises, cuts, and burns, especially if the child is unable to provide an adequate explanation of the cause. These may appear in distinctive patterns such as grab marks, human bite marks, cigarette burns or impressions of other instruments.
  • Destructive, aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • Passive, withdrawn or emotionless behavior
  • Fear of going home or fear of parent(s)

Indicators of sexual abuse can include the following:

  • Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Injury to genital area
  • Difficulty and/or pain when sitting or walking
  • Sexually suggestive, inappropriate or promiscuous behavior or verbalization
  • Expressing age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual relations
  • Sexual victimization of other children

Indicators of maltreatment can include the following:

  • Obvious malnourishment, listlessness or fatigue
  • Stealing or begging for food
  • Lack of personal care – poor personal hygiene, torn and/or dirty clothes
  • Untreated need for glasses, dental care or other medical attention
  • Frequent absence from or tardiness to school
  • Child inappropriately left unattended or without supervision



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