Recognizing Child Abuse

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 4. Abuse ranges from physical, sexual or emotional and includes neglect.

Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, showing, whipping and paddling. Any mark, bruise, cut, burn or other injury to a child caused by the non-accidental actions of a person.

Any sexual act between an adult and a child. This includes fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts. Sometimes older children molest younger children. Sexual acts between children become molestation when one child uses coercion, force or violation to get the other child to participate in the sexual acts.

Any attitude or behavior that interferes with a child's mental health or social development. This concludes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are "bad, no good, worthless" or "a mistake." It also includes failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child's emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being. This includes ignoring the child, lack of appropriate physical affections (hugs), not saying, "I love you," withdrawal of attention, lack of praise and lack of positive reinforcement.

Failure to provide a child's physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care and inadequate hygiene.

Child Abuse Statistics:

  • Child abuse is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 4.
  • Seminole County Child Protective Services receives approximately 4,000 reports of suspected child abuse each year.
  • 80% of fatal head injuries in children under the age of 2 are non-accidental.
  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • In the United States 3 million reports of possible abuse are reported to Child Protective Services each year, involving 5 million children.
  • More than 100,000 children are maltreated each year in the State of Florida.
  • Kids house of Seminole, Inc. Children's Advocacy Center helps more than 2,000 children each year, find healing and hope.

Signs of Abuse

Potential Signs of Physical Abuse:
  • Unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes or other injuries
  • Apparent fear of a parent of caretaker
  • Faded bruises or healing injuries after missing school
  • Extreme levels of aggression or withdrawal- may bully other children
  • Hypersensitivity to touch- may flinch when someone raises their hand in the air above them or reaches out to them
  • Intentional cruelty to animals

Potential Signs of Sexual Abuse:
  • Difficulty walking, sitting or other indications of injury in the genital area
  • Sexual knowledge or behavior beyond what is normal for the child's age
  • Running away from home
  • Excessive aggression or withdrawal
  • Resistant to changing clothes- strange dressing habits such as wearing to pairs of underwear or none at all

Potential Signs of Emotional Abuse:
  • Acting overly mature or immature for the child's age
  • Extreme changes in behavior
  • Excessive desire to please adults or no desire to please adults
  • Impaired functioning with social activities, sleep, eating or toilet-training
  • Shows physical signs of anxiety or depression, i.e. pulling out hair, nervous tics
  • Overly suspicious, untrusting, phobic or pessimistic

Potential Signs of Neglect:
  • Missing a lot of school
  • Begging for or stealing money or food
  • Lacking needed medical or dental care
  • Frequently dirty
  • Using alcohol or other drugs
  • Indicating there is no supervision at home

Preventing Child Abuse

Preventing child abuse is one of our top priorities are Kids House. Research strongly suggests that primary prevention, made before problems develop, is by far the least expensive and more effective means of solving a wide range of social problems including child abuse and neglect.

What you put into any relationship is what you can expect to get back. Kids are like sponges- give them good messages and they will absorb them. Anything you do to support children and parents in your community helps strengthen families and reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment. Please join us in our journey to strengthen families.

Practicing Prevention First
  • Interrupts the "cycle of violence"
  • Builds on the strengths of families
  • Helps parents before abusive or neglectful behavior begins which is more effective than trying to correct abusive or neglectful habits once they develop
  • Hops children protect themselves by providing them with information and skills that increase elf-esteem, daily life skills and the ability to protect themselves from abuse and neglect
  • Is an investment in the future for all of us in Central Florida

At Kids House, We Promise
  • To break the cycle of abuse by working together with families in our community to help improve lives
  • To help educate the community on how to prevent or identify and respond to child abuse
  • To coordinate and integrate prevention services throughout Seminole County
  • To offer classes the help strengthen the family (e.g. positive parenting classes)
  • To listen when you tell us what your family needs- remember you don't have to go it alone; we are a phone call away
  • To bring you up-to-date information on new ideas and events that will help educate all of us on strengthening families
  • To respect the family unit and your abilities as a parent

* Information provided by The Family Source

It is important to note that children with special needs are two times more likely to be abused than children without special needs. Special needs may include physical, mental, emotional or developmental conditions.

Child abuse and neglect can sometimes be difficult to detect. The key to protecting children is to report any suspicion you can support with evidence. If your suspicions are confirmed by any piece of evidence, no matter how small, report the incident to 1-800-966-ABUSE. It is not your responsibility to prove abuse or neglect, simply to report your suspicions and observations.