Child Abuse – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Abusing a child who is below the age of eighteen years old by an adult is known as child abuse. It refers to mistreating the child and not taking good care of him or her. If a person intentionally harming the child who is under the age of eighteen years is also considered as child abuse. An adult who is harming the child can be a

  • Parent
  • Other family members
  • Guardians or caregivers
  • Sport coaches
  • Teachers


It has been observed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Child abuse is classified into mainly three types. These includes

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Medical Abuse
  • Neglect

Most of the abuses on the child will come under the category of the above types. People should remember that bullying is not added in the above categories. Sometimes, abusing a child appears like non-violent. It can happen anywhere and people from all cultures once involved in committing this sin. Most of the time, child abuse caused by the members of the family or peers, rather than a stranger.

People commit this mistake due to different reasons. For instance, people who are suffering from any kind of mental health problem like depression, or anxiety disorders have higher chances of committing this abuse. In the United States, nearly, six lakhs individuals experiencing this type of abuse in their life every year as per the report given by the child protective services (CPS).

Types of Child Abuse

It has been observed that child abuse is classified into five types. These includes

Physical abuse: If a person is intentionally injured the child physically is considered as physical abuse.

Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse refers to forcing a child to watch pornography, or doing sexual activity with a child, such as touching their sensitive parts is considered as sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse: When a person attempts to injure a child’s confidence or those person actions affecting the child emotional well-being is considered as emotional abuse. It includes ignoring the child, or treating them unfairly or not giving proper care to them.

Medical abuse: When a medical professional or a person providing false information regarding the child’s health which in turn leads to putting the children living in danger is known as medical abuse. In simpler forms, when a child requires medical attention due to his or her condition and someone providing false information about the child’s health status.

Neglecting: If the guardian or caregiver is not providing the necessary things to a child is considered child neglect. It means not giving them proper education, food, proper clothes, and medical care.

If you notice any kind of child abuse, we would advise you to report it to the respective authorities. In most cases, child abuse is done by the people who are closely related to the child.

What are the indicators of child abuse?

A victim of child-abusing often feel guilty, and also feel shame about themselves. They also don’t want to talk about this issue. It happens only in the case of when the abuser is a parent or someone who is close to them.

Committing suicide, not spending with their loved ones, sudden changes in the behavior, making attempts to running away from home, sudden loss of self-confidence, lack of supervision, not interested in going home after the school hours, and rebellious or defiant behavior are the symptoms of child abuse that we commonly observe in a child who is experiencing the child abuse.

Bruises, fractures, burns, and injuries that don’t match the explanation given by the child are considered as the symptoms of physical abuse.

Blood in the child’s underwear, sexual behavior, or knowing about it which is inappropriate for their age, getting diagnosed with STDs (sexually transmitted infections) or pregnancy, and inappropriate sexual contact with other children are considered as the symptoms of sexual abuse.

Loss of previously acquired developmental skills, unable to enjoy the activities that once enjoyed previously, low self-esteem or self-confidence, desperately seeks affection, and experiencing mental health problems like depression are considered as the symptoms of emotional abuse.

Poor hygiene, lack of appropriate attention for medical, sudden changes in the weight, hiding food for later, lack of supplies to meet physical needs, and taking food or money without permission are considered as the signs and symptoms of neglecting a child.

What are the complications of child abuse?

Some children may overcome the effects of child abuse on their life with the help of strong social support. But it is not the same case with other children. They may experience the following issues at the later stages of their life. These includes

  • Physical issues
  • Behavioral issues
  • Emotional issues, and
  • Mental health disorders

Premature death, substance abuse, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and health problems like cardiovascular disease, lung problems, and other deadly diseases are considered as the physical issues of child abuse.

Unable to focus on work, violent behavior, unable to interact with the other people, abusing others, facing problems in school, withdrawal, self-harming or making attempts to commit suicide, and high-risk sexual behaviors or teen pregnancy are considered as the behavioral complications of child abuse.

Habituated to violence or getting beaten by other people, low self-esteem or self-confidence, unable to handle stress and frustrations, not succeeding in maintaining relationships, and facing challenges with intimacy and trust are the emotional complications of child abuse.

Attachment disorders, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, behavior disorders, depression, and getting difficulty in sleep or unable to sleep are considered as the mental health disorders complication of child abuse. It has been observed in research that the people who are abused in their childhood may be addicted to substance use in adulthood.

How to Diagnose child abuse?

To diagnose child abuse, a doctor must examine the child’s body completely with his or her consent. Child authorities may ask some questions regarding child behavior to assess the situation carefully. Agencies, which are specially assigned to look for these types of cases will start to investigate the cases.

A physical examination may be performed by the physician for determining child abuse. Lab tests such as x-rays will be conducted to the child along with the physical examination. They may also ask information about the previous medical history of the child, and also talk with their parents or guardians.

Diagnosis is very important in the process of treating the child and to decide the course of action.

Treatment options for Child abuse

Treatment is necessary to ease the symptoms of sexual, emotional, physical, and neglect. Taking them to a safe environment is the best treatment for them. but before doing that, medical professionals should check some key problems in the child. If the child is the victim of physical abuse, then doctors should look for bruises or burns in the body.

Addressing Physical needs

When a child is admitted to the hospital as a victim of child abuse, the first and foremost thing for the medical professionals is to check for any damages to the body. It is especially important when a child is admitted due to physical abuse. We would advise people to seek medical attention immediately and they may need to appear for further more testing.

Safe Environment

If the child is not feeling safe at his or her own home, then the respective authorities should allocate the child to a safe environment. Otherwise, the child may disturb mentally and that is not safe for them. Caregivers or guardians can talk with the child authorities if they have any objections in this case. The child shouldn’t stay in the same place where he or she is abused. A child may feel unsafe if the parents are forcing the children to stay in the same place. Due to this reason, we would advise the child authorities to protect the children by placing them in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment.

Consult a Physician

Children who are the victims of physical abuse or emotional abuse may need immediate medical attention by the health professionals. Physicians will conduct their therapies and it will improve the children’s mood and help them to express themselves. The effects of physical abuse or emotional abuse will have a negative impact on their life and these effects can be ever-lasting if they don’t open their mouth and tell what happened to them. In this case, therapies will make them feel comfortable and children can express their feelings and emotions about the abuses.

Child-parent psychotherapy

The main objective of this therapy is to build a strong relationship between the child and the parent. This treatment completely focuses on discovering the roots of the abuse and overcoming the problems that are happened between them in the past.

After this therapy, if the child is still living with their parents, then social services may visit their homes unnoticed and the main objective of this visitation is to whether the home is fully equipped with the things that are needed for the child.


Parents should take important steps to get their children back. We would advise parents to offer their unconditional love and attention to their children and listen to them carefully. Provide your children with essential things and also learn to interact with your child.



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