For whatever strange, sick, and sadistic reasons someone can come up with, people across the world, throughout history, and with no signs of stopping, abuse and neglect children. From parents to teachers to strangers, children are in harm’s way and it is nothing short of tragic. Unfortunately, this neglect and abuse can go undetected, undiagnosed, and unaddressed for months, years, and even decades, leading to horrible mental and emotional anguish that even years (if not a lifetime) of therapy can resolve and fix.

Some children blame themselves and put on the bravest faces they can to make it through the day and not bring attention to themselves; some were threatened with violence to never speak a word. No child deserves to go through that pain and anguish, suffering on their own. In most cases, there are some subtle (and other obviously glaring) telltale signs of abuse and neglect that we all should keep an eye out for in an effort to protect the children who can’t protect themselves.

Some common signs displayed by children who have gone through, or are going through abuse or neglect are as follows:

  • Abuses drugs or alcohol – you likely won’t see this in very young children, but in pre-teens and teens it can be an obvious giveaway.
  • Dresses poorly and shows empathy towards their outward appearance – some children may choose to gain weight, remain unkempt, or hide their physical appearances in an effort to deter abusers from coming near.
  • Emotionally and physically withdraws themselves from others (this is particularly noticeable in outgoing and extroverted children)
  • Seems scared to return to their home.
  • Lacks dental care – this could be in conjunction with an earlier point of wanting to hide themselves and ruin their physical appearance, or as a result of apathy from their parent(s) or guardian(s).
  • Has cut marks on their body, excessive bruises, or has attempted suicide.

We should note that there are some signs of neglect visible from the parents as well, and you should look out for these if you suspect things are wrong for the child:

  • Ignoring the child, shushing them, pretending they aren’t there, and other signs of disinterest
  • Blames the child for things out of their control, or scolds them for irrational reasons
  • Abuses drugs or alcohol at home and especially in public
  • Hits the child, or threatens to harm them.

As we mentioned, some children place the blame on themselves, or believe they deserve the abuse they receive, and will do their best to appear normal and outgoing so as to not arouse suspicion. This likely stems from threats, or because others were suspicious at an earlier time and the aggressor harmed them further as punishment for raising said suspicions. In some cases, children could emotional issues that do not stem from neglect, nor abuse, and it can ruin a parent or guardian’s credibility and reputation to be accused of child abuse. It is usually best to try to have the child speak to an impartial figure with authority to determine if any neglect has gone on in their lives.

If you are unsure if a child is being neglected of abused, or if you suspect that they are victims of abuse from a parent, guardian, teacher, or stranger, contact our offices immediately to speak with a Denver family law attorney who can help you plan out your next steps, contact the proper authorities, and ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing.