As a society, we are generally more aware of physical and sexual abuse dangers facing children than we were in previous eras. The HeathyPlace website does a great job of recapping the signs of physical and sexual abuse that adults should look for and we strongly urge you to review this information.
There are 2 other common forms of child abuse that can sometimes be more difficult to observe and address.
Emotional Child Abuse — Any behavior, attitude or neglect that hurts a child’s mental health or social development is considered emotional abuse. Verbal insults, school bullying and cliques, sibling taunts and extreme punishment are examples of this behavior, which can also be referred to as psychological or mental abuse. In many cases, this type of treatment of a child has more long-lasting negative effects than physical or sexual abuse, because it is focused on the perceived self-worth of the child.
Neglectful Child Abuse — Child neglect is another damaging form of abuse, and it is much more common than physical and sexual abuse combined. Neglect comes in 3, often overlapping, forms — physical, educational and emotional. When parents or guardians fail to provide appropriate food, clothing, educational opportunities, support or affection, these are indicators of child neglect. If you observe children who appear dirty or unbathed, are wearing clothes that are unsuited to the weather, are unusually hungry and have a lack of supervision, these are signs of child neglect.
While physical signs of child abuse are heartbreaking and require an immediate response, be observant of the children around you, for an indications of possibly less obvious forms of abuse.