Recognize the Signs of Child Abuse

Recognizing the fears and sensitivities of our children is very important for today's education employees. Children who have been or are currently being abused will many times not perform in school and react to situations much differently than other children.

Abuse takes several forms and some are more easily recognizable than others. A child who shows no outward signs of abuse may still be living in fear of being touched or may react emotionally to a simple verbal reprimand. Becoming aware of some of the signs of abuse may save a child's life and save you from a false, but innocent, accusation.

There are several behavioral clues that may lead you to suspect that a student is being abused. Of course, one sign or symptom may not necessarily indicate child abuse, but there are some things to watch for:

  • appears nervous, disruptive, or hyperactive;
  • has a pattern of unexplained injuries or an inordinate number of "explained" ones;
  • comes to school inappropriately dressed for the season;
  • is habitually late or often absent from school;
  • arrives early or leaves late because he or she is reluctant to go home;
  • is unusually fearful of adults or other children;
  • is unusually shy, withdrawn or passive;
  • is constantly tired or thin, showing evidence of malnutrition.

Teachers have a legal and moral responsibility to report suspected child abuse to their principal. It will then be referred to the Department of Family and Children services for further study. The only time you can get into trouble is for not reporting it. You may want to discuss the situation with a veteran teacher or counselor before you actually report it, but always be mindful to watch for signs.