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Community Connection For Child Care

Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Child Abuse


Child abuse is hurting or not caring for a child. It can be physical – hurting the child’s body. It can be emotional – criticizing how a child thinks or feels.

Child abuse is against the law. If you think someone is hurting a child, you must tell the Child Welfare Agency in your state. This is the law. If you do not report your suspicions, you are breaking the law, too.


There are two basic ways to tell if a child is being abused. One is by looking at the child for physical signs of abuse. The other is by observing how the child acts. Remember, a healthy child may show one or more of these signs once in a while. However, if you see these signs often, the child may be the victim of abuse.



  • has unexplained bruises, welts, or breaks on face, lips, mouth, body, back, bottom, thighs, or sex organs (genitals)
  • exhibits bruises in different stages of healing
  • has bruises shaped like a belt buckle, electrical cord, or something that could be used to hurt a child
  • has bruises in several different areas
  • exhibits bruises after the child has been absent
  • has unexplained burns
  • has cigar or cigarette burns, especially on feet, hands, back, or bottom
  • exhibits burns from being placed in hot water, (sock-like, glove-like, or doughnut shaped on bottom or sex organs)
  • has burns in patterns (like elec-tric stove burner, iron, etc.)
  • has rope burns on arms, legs, neck, or body
  • has infected burns (showing that the burn was not treated right away)
  • has trouble walking or sitting
  • has torn, stained, or bloody under clothing
  • experiences pain when going to the bathroom
  • has discharge from sex organs
  • has venereal disease (especially in preteens)
  • needs to go to bathroom often
  • has a vacant or frozen stare
  • has continuing problems such as stomachaches, vomiting, etc.
  • is behind in physical development fails to grow or gain weight


  • often feels deserving of punishment
  • is somewhat fearful of contact with adults
  • is frightened when other chil-dren cry
  • behavior changes from very shy to aggressive and/or over active
  • is frightened of parents
  • is afraid to go home
  • is very inactive or daydreams a lot
  • lies very still while watching surroundings (in infants)
  • responds to questions with one word
  • looks and acts older than he or she should for age
  • acts up to get attention
  • does not make close friendships
  • seeks affection at any time
  • thinks little of himself or herself
  • always tries to do everything he or she is told
  • is constantly crabby
  • reports sexual assault by person caring for him or her
  • feels and acts very unhappy
  • suddenly has sleeping or eating problems
  • exhibits much or unusual rubbing of the genitals
  • tells someone something but not the whole story (“We have a secret, but I can’t tell,” “I want to tell you something, but I can’t,” etc.)
  • exhibits withdrawal, fantasy, or babyish behavior has weird sexual ideas or behavior
  • injures himself or herself
  • has speech problems
  • is very active or behaves in such a way as to disturb others
  • has a pale face and blank stare
  • exhibits a habit disorder such as unusual sucking, biting, or rocking

Carole L. Eller

Extension Educator, 4-H and Youth Development
University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension


Remember, it is against the law to hurt a child. You must report it when you suspect a child is being abused. After you report abuse, wait a week and then call again to see what has been done. Watch for new signs of abuse and report each one.

Each time you call, write down the time, date, and who you talked to. Write down the child’s name and what evidence you have that the child is being abused.

Child Abuse Hotline

(661) 631-6011 (Countywide)
(760) 375-6049 (Ridgecrest)
(Report 24 hours per day, 7 days per week)


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