Child Abuse Prevention: See

Last updated: September 30, 2021, at 4:29 p.m. PT

Originally published: September 30, 2021, at 12:54 p.m. PT

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THREE KEY HABITS in the Prevention of Child Abuse: Know, See, & Respond

SEE and recognize the warning signs or behaviors that signal abuse or risk for abuse by: keeping your eyes and ears open for signs of abuse and talk with your child, asking them about your concerns. If something is wrong, you may see a sudden change in your child’s behavior, or you may hear unusual comments. If you see or hear these things, follow up. Find a relaxed time to talk with them.

Child Abuse Warning Signs

  • Frequent or unexplained bruises or injury
  • Unkempt or malnourished appearance
  • Bathing frequently or obsessive cleanliness
  • Disturbed sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to stay awake or concentrate for extended periods
  • Abrupt changes in behavior, anxiety, clinging, aggressiveness, or withdrawal
  • Sudden, dramatic changes in activities or personality
  • Sexually transmitted diseases and infections
  • Fear of a certain person (this can include other minors) or place
  • Discomfort with physical contact
  • Fearfulness or depression
  • Aggression toward adults or other children
  • Abuse of other children
  • Nervousness around adults
  • Low self esteem
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to their age

Watch for these things in adults that may signify potential abuse. Remember, offenders seek access, privacy, and control.

Emotional Boundary Violations

  • Making the child feel important, cared about and understood
  • Spending too much time with them
  • Choosing favorites
  • Giving gifts
  • Acting possessive
  • Sending excessive or inappropriate text messages
  • Pretending to be the child’s friend on social networking sites like Facebook
  • Sharing personal information to make the child feel like they have a special relationship
  • Promising extra coaching time, a college scholarship, a place on a national team, or even an Olympic Team spot

Physical Boundary Violations

  • Tickling
  • Horseplay
  • Hugging
  • Massaging
  • Wrestling
  • Going overboard with affection

Behavioral Boundary Violations

Offenders manipulate kids into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do, such as:

  • Sneaking around by saying they will be in one place when actually they are in another
  • Keeping secrets with the offender
  • Looking at pornography
  • Using drugs or alcohol


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