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Department of Human Services

Family, Youth and Children Division

Signs of Child Abuse & Neglect

Child abuse and neglect can occur in all types of families in all types of neighborhoods. The risk increases when families are coping with stressful situations, such as parental substance abuse, domestic violence, financial strain, homelessness or mental illness.

    The following signs may mean a child is being abused or neglected and needs help. Problems at home are most often identified by a child’s uncharacteristic behavior or appearance, or by frequent or serious physical illness or injury.

    Warning Signs or Red Flags

    The Child:

    • Doesn’t have enough food, proper clothing or safe shelter.
    • Has poor hygiene, suffers from a chronic illness and/or shows signs of anxiety or depression.
    • Describes abuse or domestic violence at home.
    • Exhibits inappropriate sexual behaviors or knowledge for his/her age.
    • Has non-accidental bruises, cuts or other injuries caused by the parent or guardian. (If injuries are severe or dangerous, call 911 first for immediate help.)

    The Parent or Guardian:

    • Doesn’t get child proper medical or dental care. 
    • Doesn’t bring the child to school or often misses appointments.
    • Seems intoxicated or drives under the influence with child in the car. (Call 911 first for immediate help)
    • Stores toxic substances or weapons within the child’s reach.
    • Doesn’t provide safe supervision or leaves a child alone who cannot care for him/herself.

    24/7 Child Protection Hotline

    Your call makes a difference. Report concerns of abuse or neglect 24/7 to (707) 565-4304 or (800) 870-7064.