In 2019, 33,060 children were abused or neglected in Michigan, totaling 91 children each day. It is estimated that 63 of Michigan children died from abuse or neglect. (1) Children ages 4 and younger are at higher risk for abuse or neglect. Children with special needs, such as behavioral health issues or chronic physical diagnoses that require increased care may have an increased risk, as well.
Child abuse prevention is a shared community responsibility. We must work together in recognizing those who are at risk and the signs of child maltreatment. Statewide and nationally, child abuse and neglect are considered to be one our nation’s most serious public health problems. Many scientific studies documenting the link between the neglect of children to a wide range of medical, emotional, psychological, and behavioral disorders such as depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, severe obesity, and juvenile delinquency.
There are many types of abuse; physical, sexual, medical, emotional, and neglect. Abuse is considered intentional harm or maltreatment of another person. In a child under 18 years of age, it is considered child abuse. Child abuse can often be at the hand of someone that the child knows and trusts; often a parent or relative.
|Type of Abuse||What is it?||Symptoms|
|Physical abuse||Abuse that occurs when there is purposeful physical injury or a risk for harm.||
|Sexual abuse||A criminal act. Any sexual activity with a child (fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse, exploitation, exposure to pornography).||
|Medical abuse||When false information is given to a medical provider in order for the child to gain medical attention, putting the child at risk for unnecessary care or possible injury.||
|Emotional abuse||When a child experiences verbal or emotional belittling, berating, degrading, isolation, or rejection that affects their self-esteem or emotional well-being.||
|Neglect||A failure to protect or provide; adequate food, shelter, supervision, education, affection or even dental or medical care.||
Children, at any age, who are abused can feel guilt and shame. They can also feel confused and have feelings of mistrust. They may not understand the magnitude of their abuse. They may have many fears, such as telling someone about the abuse, retaliation from their abuser, or losing their home or family. We can’t know exactly what an abused child may be going through or thinking, but we can assess and identify any red flags that can potentially identify child abuse. Keep in mind this list is not an inclusive list, nor does it mean that every child with one or more of these symptoms is being abused- it’s simply a tool to help identify potential abuse.
- Changes in behavior; aggression, anger, hostility, hyperactivity
- Changes in school performance
- Withdrawal from friends
- Withdrawal from activities (especially favorites)
- Frequent absences from school (or work)
- Sudden loss of self confidence
- Depression, anxiety or unusual fears
- Not wanting to return home
- Attempts to run away
- Suicidal ideation / attempts
By: Robin Atwood, BSN, RN
For more information:
1. Michigan.gov: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/ctf/Governors_Proclamation_CAP_Month_684336_7.pdf