Here are some key physical and emotional indicators.

Physical Indicators of Maltreatment and Neglect or Emotional Maltreatment

  • Failure to thrive (physically or emotionally)
  • Positive drug toxicology, especially in newborns
  • Lags in physical development
  • Consistent hunger, poor hygiene and inappropriate dress for the weather
  • Speech disorders
  • Consistent lack of supervision for extended periods, or in dangerous situations
  • Unattended physical problems or medical needs
  • Chronic truancy
  • Abandonment

Child Behavioral Indicators

  • Begging or stealing food
  • Extended stays at school (arriving early or staying late)
  • Constant fatigue, listlessness or falling asleep in class
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Delinquency
  • States there is no caretaker
  • States that domestic violence or intimate partner abuse is going on in or outside of the home
  • Runaway behavior
  • Habit disorders such as sucking, biting, rocking, etc.
  • Conduct disorders such as antisocial behavior, destructive behavior, etc.
  • Neurotic traits such as sleep disorders, inhibition of play
  • Psychoneurotic behaviors such as obsessions, compulsions, phobias or hypochondriasis
  • Exhibits behavioral extremes (aggressive, demanding, compliant, passive)
  • Overly adaptive behavior, such as being inappropriately adult-like or infant-like
  • Mental or emotional developmental lags
  • Attempts suicide or gestures, self-mutilation

Adapted from: Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect: Mandated Reporter Trainer’s Resource Guide. New York State Office of Children and Family Services: CDHS/Research Foundation of SUNY/BSC (2009).

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