To Report Suspected Abuse Call DCYF at (800) 894-5533 - For Emergencies Dial 911

Child Abuse – Know the Signs

Know the Signs

Children are often too scared or ashamed to disclose abuse. It is estimated only 10% (1 in 10 children) of child victims ever come forward on their own. Children depend on caring adults. It is important to know about possible changes in behavior and/or other indicative signs. If you have reason to suspect a child has been abused or neglected, New Hampshire law requires you to report what you know to the Division for Children Youth & Families immediately or local law enforcement.

Children who are abused may not be able to express their feelings safely and as a result, may develop difficulties regulating their emotions.

Possible Indicators of Abuse

The following are SOME of the possible effects, or indications, of child abuse and neglect on a child’s mental health and well being.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Academic problems in school-aged children and adolescents
  • Withdrawn and/or difficulty connecting with others
  • Flashbacks
  • Increased hyper-vigilance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Eating disorders
  • Drug use
  • Risky sexual decision-making
  • Self-harm
  • Discomfort with physical touch

Physical Signs of Abuse

Being able to recognize the physical signs of abuse can be crucial in identifying an abusive situation and taking steps to protect a child from further abuse or neglect. These are some common injuries/signs observed in children who have been physically or sexually abused and/or neglected:

  • Bruises, welts or swelling
  • Sprains or fractures
  • Burns
  • Lacerations or abrasions
  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody clothing
  • Pain or itching in the genital area; bruises or bleeding in the external genital area
  • Sexually transmitted infections or diseases
  • Lack of adequate supervision, nutrition or shelter
  • Poor hygiene


For additional information, please view these useful brochures: