What Exactly Are We Talking About Here?
What is Child Physical Abuse?
- Hitting the child/teen with hands or objects
- Slapping and punching the child/teen
- Kicking the child/teen
- Shaking the child/teen
- Throwing things at and/or near/around the child/teen
- Poisoning the child/teen
- Burning and/or scalding the child/teen
- Bruising the child/teen
- Biting and/or scratching the child/teen
- Spraining and/or breaking the child/teen’s bones
- Drowning the child/teen
What is Child Emotional/Psychological Abuse?
- Name calling
- Public shaming
- Terrorizing, frightening, and/or bullying
- Allowing kids to witness the physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse of others
- Holding back love, guidance, attention, and/or support
- Isolating the child/teen from social experiences
- Encouraging the child/teen to engage in age-inappropriate and/or destructive behavior
- Forcing a trans child/teen to de-transition or blocking them from transitioning at all
- Forcing a lesbian, gay, bi, queer, etc. child/teen into “conversion therapy” or other efforts to make them straight
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
- Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a child/teen
- Fondling a child/teen
- Intercourse with a child/teen of any kind, including vaginal, oral, and/or anal, etc
- Masturbation in the presence of a child/teen or forcing and/or encouraging the child/teen to masturbate
- Sexual phone calls, text messages, and/or other kinds of digital interaction with child/teen
- Creating, owning, and/or sharing pornographic images and/or movies of children/teens
- Sex trafficking minors
- Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child/teen’s mental, emotional, and/or physical welfare
What is Neglect?
Physical neglect: Abandoning the child/teen, refusing to accept custody of the child/teen, not providing for basic needs like nutrition, hygiene, and/or appropriate clothing
Medical neglect: Delaying or denying recommended quality comprehensive health care (by licensed providers) for the child/teen
Inadequate supervision: Leaving the child unsupervised (this depends on length of time and child’s age/maturity at the time), not protecting the child from safety hazards, not providing adequate caregivers, and/or engaging in harmful/dangerous behavior around the child/teen
Emotional neglect: Isolating the child/teen, not providing affection or emotional support to the child/teen, and/or exposing the child/teen to domestic violence or chaotic substance use
Educational neglect: Failing to enroll the child/teen in school and/or homeschool, ignoring the child/teen’s special education needs, and/or allowing for continued interruptions in the child/teen’s education
How Can You Tell?
Physical Signs of Physical Abuse
- Bite marks
- Effects of poisoning, like vomiting, seizures, etc.
- Breathing issues from drowning, choking, etc.
Changes in Behavior as *Possible* Signs of Physical Abuse
- Child/teen is wary of adults or a certain adult
- Child/teen is violent to other children/teens and/or animals
- Child/teen is aggressive and/or emotionally distant
- Child/teen can’t remember or can’t explain how they got injured
Physical Signs of Emotional/Psychological Abuse
- Bed wetting
- Physical complaints, like headaches, nausea, etc. without physical causes
- Delays in the child/teen’s physical and/or mental growth and development
Changes in Behavior as *Possible* Signs of Emotional/Psychological Abuse
- Increased risk for self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety, and/or depression
- Unusual attachments: overly friendly to adults they don’t know, detached from parents, etc.
- Child/teen is overly compliant with no boundaries
- Child/teen is aggressive to other children and/or animals
- Child/teen has unusual emotional outbursts
- Child/teen has issues with social skills
- Child/teen is scared/afraid of their parent(s)/guardian(s)
- Child/teen has negative internal monologue (talks down to themselves, is mean in their own heads, overly high self-expectations, etc)
- Sudden changes in speech and speech pattern, like stuttering or not talking at all
Physical Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Torn bloody clothes
- Redness, swelling, and/or bleeding in genital/anal area
- Blood in urine and/or feces
- Excessive itching and/or pain in genital and/or anal area
Changes in Behavior as *Possible* Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Child/teen engages in age-inappropriate sexual play with toys and/or other children/teens
- Child/teen has unusual/age-inappropriate sexual knowledge and/or behavior
- Child/teen makes comments about secrets: having them, keeping them, etc.
- Child/teen develops an eating disorder
Physical Signs of Neglect
- Child/teen is not appropriately dressed for the weather outside (no winter clothes, etc.)
- Child/teen does not seem to have socially-appropriate grooming/hygiene habits
- Child/teen is left alone to the point that their physical, emotional, educational, social, etc child development needs are not met
- Child/teen appears to be malnourished
- Child/teen has current or chronic skin issues and/or rashes
- Child/teen’s medical needs are not being handled
Changes in Behavior as *Possible* Signs of Neglect
- Child/teen steals food and/or other necessities due to need
- Child/teen appears overly hungry for attention based on what’s usual behavior for their age group and/or cultural background
- Child/teen forms unusual attachments: overly friendly to adults they don’t know, detached from parents, etc.
- Child/teen has poorly developed social skills
- Child/teen has issues with personal hygiene/grooming
The Role of Community Accountability Here
What Am I Supposed to Do?
Having an awareness of socialization and the various systemic oppressions (not just race). Read Black political theories from all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, etc. Learn about child development, mental health wellness, sociology, public health, etc. from Black writers/thinkers with an awareness of various systemic oppressions
Using that awareness to inform your politics, how you move in the world, the kinds of support you give, etc. That awareness not only helps us address current abuse and neglect, but also guides us in figuring out how to provide support to families who are strained and are at risk of repeating intergenerational traumas
Changing the narrative about what is “normal” in our communities, giving parents other alternatives for discipline (for example) and connecting with their children from within our cultures, encouraging healthier dynamics in interpersonal relationships, and encouraging activities that push personal growth like psychotherapy, etc.
Donating money, giving out resources, sharing paid opportunities if possible, etc. directly to individuals in your communities who need it
Listening to what the people in those situations say they need and providing just that kinds of support
Consider how you can support the youth in your communities. Find a way to ask them what they need and how you and other adults can help.