If you trust someone to watch your children while you work or spend childfree time with your partner or friends, you need to know the signs of abuse. Some caregivers abuse the children in their care or do not offer the level of supervision you expect. Consider some of the following warning signs of child abuse and be sure to investigate immediately if you suspect a caregiver, daycare employee, or babysitter has abused your child. Remember that Texas law requires anyone who suspects or witnesses child abuse of any kind to report it to the authorities immediately.
Children are remarkably resilient, but they typically do not process trauma in the same way adults do. Many children respond to trauma by mentally blocking it out or replacing it with something that makes sense to them, such as an imaginary monster taking the place of a real-world abuser. Victims of child abuse tend to process trauma in unpredictable ways, and regressive behaviors are common signs a child has endured some form of abuse.
Any noticeable changes in your child’s behavior require investigation.
Your child will likely have many cuts and scrapes growing up, just as any child would from playing outside and roughhousing with friends, but these are explainable and reasonable injuries in most cases. If you notice any injuries that your child cannot explain or seems to avoid talking about, consider this a major red flag.
Just as children sometimes regress to acting younger than their current ages, they may also process trauma by acting out in unpredictable or even dangerous ways.
It is vital to discuss these changes with your child and let him or her know you can help. Encourage an open conversation and be receptive to your child’s feelings. Many children suffer abuse and do not know how to handle it or how to ask for help. If you are argumentative or doubtful of what your child tells you, the results can be devastating. If a child believes no one will help this can cause severe psychological trauma and allow the abuse to continue unabated.
If you notice any of these signs of abuse with your child, it is crucial to investigate them immediately. This is especially true if your child hates going to school or daycare or protests when a certain babysitter comes to watch him or her; the child may be acting out of fear but does not know how to articulate the problem.