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Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Adult with hand over girl's mouth

If you have questions or concerns regarding child abuse or neglect call our 24-Hour Child Abuse and Neglect HOTLINE: 704-336-CARE (2273).

All calls will be kept confidential.

So often, DSS social workers are brought in to situations where families are in crisis. In FY09, DSS's Youth and Family Services Division launched 8,719 new child abuse and neglect investigations and 455 children entered into Mecklenburg County's. In 2008, 33 childhood deaths were attributed to child abuse and neglect in North Carolina. Although these numbers may sound high, we know that cases of abuse and neglect tend to be underreported.
You can change that. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call Child Protective Services at 704-336-CARE. You do not have to reveal your identity when you call.

Signs of Possible Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruises in various stages of healing
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Welts, human bite marks, bald spots
  • Unexplained burns - especially cigarette burns or glove-like burns
  • Unexplained fractures, injuries or abrasions
  • Nervousness, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, disruptive and destructive behaviors
  • Unusual wariness of physical contact
  • Fear of parent or caretaker
  • Lack of expressed emotion Unduly shy, withdrawn and passive

Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse

  • Exhibiting sexual behaviors that are not appropriate for the child's age
  • A detailed and sophisticated understanding of sexual behavior
  • Reversion to behaviors such as bed-wetting, speech loss and thumb-sucking
  • Sleep disturbances or nightmares
  • Pain, itching, bruising or bleeding in the genital area
  • Venereal disease
  • Frequent urinary tract or yeast infections
  • Exhibiting delinquent or aggressive behaviors
  • Showing signs of depression
  • Displaying self-injurious behaviors such as substance abuse, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, prostitution or running away

Signs of Possible Emotional Abuse

  • Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical or emotional development
  • Ulcers, asthma, severe allergies
  • Habit disorders such as sucking or rocking
  • Unduly passive and undemanding
  • Extremely demanding, aggressive or angry behavior
  • Antisocial, destructive attitude
  • Depressed or suicidal tendencies
  • Attention-seeking activities
  • Delinquent behavior - especially in adolescents

Signs of Possible Neglect

  • Abandonment by parent or caregiver
  • Unattended medical needs
  • Consistent lack of supervision
  • Consistent hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene
  • Lice, distended stomach
  • Poor social skills
  • Indiscriminate about his/her affection
  • Pale, listless, begs or steals food, frequent absences from school
  • Falls asleep in class, regularly displays fatigue
  • Self-destructive behaviors
More information about child abuse and neglect from North Carolina Health & Human Services.

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