Few forms of domestic violence are more tragic than child abuse. Whether the abuse involves physical injury, sexual abuse, or even physical and psychological neglect, these forms of maltreatment can have lasting consequences on a child’s well-being. In fact, various types of child abuse can contribute to future drug abuse, domestic violence, emotional disorders, and other severe problems in adulthood.
Because of this, it is essential that friends, neighbors, and school officials be on the lookout for warning signs that child abuse is taking place. Substance abuse and a history of family violence in one or both parents often puts a child at greater risk for abuse. Sadly, children with chronic illnesses and disabilities are also reported to be at a higher risk for abuse.
Neighbors and friends should be aware of signs of child abuse, which aren’t limited to the appearance of unusual injuries. Children who suffer family violence often experience slow development or appear noticeably afraid of a parent. Low self-esteem, depression, poor grades, or acting out in inappropriate ways are also common. In extreme cases, such as when sexual abuse is involved, a child might even self-harm or attempt suicide.
If you suspect that a child is being mistreated, don’t keep your concerns to yourself. Both local and national-level programs are available to provide assistance and help children escape harmful environments.