Recognizing Signs & Symptoms of Abuse - Pathways LA

12th Apr 2019

Recognizing Signs & Symptoms of Abuse

The effects of child abuse and neglect are far-reaching and long-lasting. Abused children are more likely to develop substance addictions, more likely to become involved in criminal activity, and have a significantly lower life expectancy than their counterparts. Moreover, the inter-generational cycle of violence is self-perpetuating—one third of abused children will eventually victimize their own children.

Pathways LA aims to break this pattern of abuse by building a support system for child care providers, foster care resource families, and parents. Our in-house experts on trauma-informed care run an evidence-based training series that teaches providers and resource families how to recognize signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect in children. Research has shown that early intervention can have a positive impact on victims of abuse, so being able to detect the symptoms quickly and accurately makes all the difference in a child’s well-being.

The following signs and symptoms in a child may signal the presence of abuse or neglect:

  • The child shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
  • The child has not received help for physical problems brought to the parents’ attention.
  • The child has learning problems that cannot be contributed to other causes.
  • The child appears overly watchful and aware of their surroundings.
  • The child is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn.
  • The child lacks developmentally appropriate adult supervision.
  • The child arrives early, stays late, and does not want to go home.

The appearance of one sign or symptom does not necessarily indicate that child abuse is occurring, but the presence of numerous risk factors warrants further investigation.

Research shows that trauma-informed care is one of the most effective strategies for helping victims, and those who receive it have fewer post-traumatic symptoms than those who don’t. As part of the training that Pathways LA offers, providers learn how to identify trauma-reactive behavior in children and how to respond through a trauma-informed lens. Participants study the impact of trauma on brain development, learn about explicit and implicit memories, and examine the message behind specific behavioral responses in young children. They are also given strategies for creating safe environments, building healthy attachments, and helping children with emotional dysregulation who are in their care.

Combating the problem of child abuse and neglect requires a well-informed community and everyone’s full participation. Please join us in creating a better, safer space for our children.