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Signs of Sex Abuse


1. Unexplained injuries

Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.


2. Changes in behavior

Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or overly aggressive.


3. Age-inappropriate behaviors

Abused children may display age-inappropriate behaviors, e.g., for older children: thumb-sucking, bed-wetting or fear of the dark.


4. Fear of going home

Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.


5. Changes in eating

The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.


6. Changes in sleeping

Abused children may have frequent nightmares or may appear tired or fatigued.


7. Changes in school performance and attendance

Abused children may have difficulty concentrating and have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.


8. Lack of personal care or hygiene

Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for and may be wearing unsuitable clothing for the weather.


9. Risk-taking behaviors

Young people who are being abused may engage in illegal activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.


10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors

Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.

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