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Mark Hutten, M.A.
Re: Child Abuse and Neglect

What are some of the visible indications that a child is being abused at home?

The statistics on physical child-abuse are alarming. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of kids are physically
abused each year by a parent or close relative. Thousands actually die as a result of the abuse. For those who
survive, the emotional trauma remains long after the external bruises have healed. Communities and the courts
recognize that these emotional “hidden bruises” can be treated. Early recognition and treatment is important to
minimize the long term effect of physical abuse. Whenever a youngster says he or she has been abused, it must be
taken seriously and immediately evaluated.
Kids who have been abused may display:

•  a poor self image
•  aggressive, disruptive, and sometimes illegal behavior
•  anger and rage
•  anxiety and fears
•  drug and alcohol abuse
•  fear of entering into new relationships or activities
•  feelings of sadness or other symptoms of depression
•  flashbacks, nightmares
•  inability to trust or love others
•  passive, withdrawn or clingy behavior
•  school problems or failure
•  self destructive or self abusive behavior, suicidal
•  sexual acting out
•  sleep problems
Often the severe emotional damage to abused kids does not surface until adolescence or even later, when many
abused kids become abusing moms and dads. An adult who was abused as a youngster often has trouble establishing
lasting and stable personal relationships. These men and women may have trouble with physical closeness, touching,
intimacy, and trust as adults. They are also at higher risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, medical illness,
and problems at school or work.  
Early identification and treatment is important to
minimize the long-term consequences of abuse.
Qualified mental health professionals should conduct a
comprehensive evaluation and provide treatment for
kids who have been abused. Through treatment, the
abused youngster begins to regain a sense of
self-confidence and trust. The family can also be helped
to learn new ways of support and communicating with
one another. Moms and dads may also benefit from
support, parent training and anger management.

Physical abuse is not the only kind of child-abuse. Many
kids are also victims of neglect, or sexual abuse, or
emotional abuse. In all kinds of child-abuse/neglect, the
youngster and the family can benefit from evaluation
and treatment from a qualified mental health