Always take seriously children's talk of being abused. Call 911 or child protection services immediately. If you have questions or are unsure what to do, call Mississippi's Intake Hotline 1-800-222-8000.


Know the Warning Signs of Child Abuse 

A child who's being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. That's why it's vital to watch for red flags, such as:

·         Withdrawal from friends or usual activities

·         Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance

·         Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence

·         An apparent lack of supervision

·         Frequent absences from school

·         Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn't want to go home

·         Attempts at running away

·         Rebellious or defiant behavior

·         Self-harm or attempts at suicide


Specific signs and symptoms depend on the type of abuse and can vary. Keep in mind that warning signs are just that — warning signs. The presence of warning signs doesn't necessarily mean that a child is being abused.

Physical abuse signs and symptoms

·         Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures or burns

·         Injuries that don't match the given explanation

Sexual abuse signs and symptoms

·         Sexual behavior or knowledge that's inappropriate for the child's age

·         Pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection

·         Blood in the child's underwear

·         Statements that he or she was sexually abused

·         Inappropriate sexual contact with other children

Emotional abuse signs and symptoms

·         Delayed or inappropriate emotional development

·         Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem

·         Social withdrawal or a loss of interest or enthusiasm

·         Depression

·         Avoidance of certain situations, such as refusing to go to school or ride the bus

·         Desperately seeks affection

·         A decrease in school performance or loss of interest in school

·         Loss of previously acquired developmental skills

Neglect signs and symptoms

·         Poor growth or weight gain or being overweight

·         Poor hygiene

·         Lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs

·         Taking food or money without permission

·         Hiding food for later

·         Poor record of school attendance

·         Lack of appropriate attention for medical, dental or psychological problems or lack of necessary follow-up care

Parental behavior

Sometimes a parent's demeanor or behavior sends red flags about child abuse. Warning signs include a parent who:

·         Shows little concern for the child

·         Appears unable to recognize physical or emotional distress in the child

·         Blames the child for the problems

·         Consistently belittles or berates the child, and describes the child with negative terms, such   as "worthless" or "evil"

·         Expects the child to provide him or her with attention and care and seems jealous of other family members getting attention from the child

·         Uses harsh physical discipline

·         Demands an inappropriate level of physical or academic performance

·         Severely limits the child's contact with others

·         Offers conflicting or unconvincing explanations for a child's injuries or no explanation at all

There's No Excuse for Child Abuse and Neglect!