Spotting child abuse in infants
Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. every single year. Around 1700 of those children will die from abuse or neglect. According to stats from The National Children’s Alliance, in four out of five cases parents are the abusers. In 90% of cases, the abuser is a relative. The most likely targets of neglect and abuse are the most helpless – babies under the age of one.
Bruises, burns, broken bones, or other injuries are the most easily recognizable signs of abuse or neglect, but there are other less obvious indicators when it comes to very young children. Sometimes you need to look to the parent’s behavior. Some signs of possible abuse are:
- Rarely holds or interacts with the infant
- Refers to the infant as ‘bad’ or ‘evil’
- Baby is dirty or diapers go unchanged for long periods of time
- Baby is underweight
- Baby recoils from touch by adults
- Baby is passive and rarely interacts
- Baby seems delayed in physical or emotional development
- Toddler cries and puts up a fight when being left with or returned to someone
- Disruption in normal sleep patterns
- Sudden mood swings
While there are many possible reasons for changes in a child’s behavior, a pattern of these behaviors certainly merits a closer look.
Signs of possible sexual abuse in very small children include:
- Blood in diaper or on clothing
- Reluctance to have a diaper changed
- Frequent urinary tract infections
Children this small can’t speak up for themselves, so it’s up to adults to be vigilant.