Child Abuse

What is child abuse? 

Child abuse is mental, emotional, physical or sexual injury to a child or failure to prevent such an injury.

Child abuse also includes neglect, the failure to provide a child with food, clothing, shelter and/or medical care, as well as leaving a child in a situation where the child is at risk or harm.

Signs of Child Abuse

Signs of child abuse can be subtle, and in many cases, nonexistent. Changes in your child’s routine or new unexplained behaviors are worth a second look.

What to look for:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Changes in emotional behavior
  • Returning to less mature/younger behaviors
  • Fear of going home
  • Changes in eating
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Changes in school performance or attendance
  • Lack of personal care in hygiene
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors

Report suspected child abuse in Texas

Statewide intake is available 24/7: 1-800-252-5400 or www.txabusehotline.org. The phone call can be anonymous, and it could save a child’s life. Everyone is Texas is a mandatory reporter.

What to do if a child tells you he/she is being abused?

If a child discloses abuse to you, it’s important to react calmly. Don’t overreact because it could make the child shut down or feel even more ashamed or guilty. Instead, listen and offer support. Assure the child that he/she did the right thing by telling you, and that you will do all you can to protect him/her. Then report it. In Texas, that’s 1-800-252-5400 or www.txabusehotline.org.

How to prevent child abuse

For the most part, the perpetrators are not strangers. They are usually people the child knows, trusts or even loves. According to Darkness to Light, “more than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations.” Eliminating and reducing one-on-one situations between children and adults, and children and other youth, can dramatically reduce the risk of sexual abuse. Learn the 5 steps to protecting children from sexual abuse by visiting their site.

 More resources

HCWC’s Roxanne’s House provides services to child victims of sexual and physical abuse. Most clients are referred to Roxanne’s House through law enforcement or CPS. Part of a network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, Roxanne’s House is our non-residential child-friendly facility where abused children come to heal. Click on the links to learn more about services at Roxanne’s House and counseling for child witnesses to domestic violence.

You can request a presentation about recognizing and preventing child abuse.

Learn about internet safety to keep your kids safe online.