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Types & Signs of Abuse

Our Child Advocacy Center serves an important role in identifying and prosecuting child abuse, and helping young victims heal from their painful experiences.

Types & Signs of Abuse

Abuse and neglect can come in many forms. Whether it be physical, neglect, sexual abuse, abandonment, emotional or other forms, the impact abuse and neglect has on a child's mental wellbeing can be traumatic and last a lifetime.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is a non-accidental physical injury to a child caused by a parent, caregiver, or other person responsible for a child. This can include punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise causing physical harm.

Signs of Physical Abuse:

  • Unexplained injuries such as burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes

  • Fading bruises or other noticeable marks after an absence from school

  • Seems scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or aggressive

  • Abuses animals or pets

  • Seems frightened of his or her parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home

  • Shrinks at the approach of adults

  • Shows changes in eating and sleeping habits

  • Reports injury by a parent or other adult caregiver


Neglect is the failure of a parent or other caregiver to provide for a child's basic needs. Neglect generally includes the following categories:

  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, lack of appropriate supervision)

  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment, withholding medically indicated treatment from children with life-threatening conditions)

  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)

  • Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child's emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, permitting a child to use alcohol or other drugs)

Signs of Possible Neglect:

  • Is frequently absent from school

  • Begs or steals food or money

  • Lacks needed medical care (including immunizations), dental care, or glasses

  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor

  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather

  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs

  • States that there is no one at home to provide care

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse is any activity by a parent or caregiver to a child that is sexual in nature, such as fondling a child's genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse:

  • Has difficulty walking or sitting

  • Experiences bleeding, bruising, or swelling in their private parts

  • Suddenly refuses to go to school

  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting

  • Experiences sudden change in appetite

  • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior

  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted disease, particularly in under the age of 14

  • Runs away from home

  • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or other adult caregiver

  • Attaches very quickly to strangers or new adults in their environment

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional support is often difficult to prove, and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child.

Signs of Possible Emotional Maltreatment:

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as being overly compliant or demanding, extremely passive or aggressive.

  • Is either inappropriately adult (e.g., parenting other children) or inappropriately infantile (e.g., frequently rocking or head-banging)

  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development

  • Shows signs of depression or suicidal ideation

  • Reports an inability to develop emotional bonds with others


Abandonment occurs when the parent or caregiver of a child's identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left alone in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm, the child has been deserted with no regard for his or her health or safety, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.

Human Trafficking & Exploitation

Human trafficking & exploitation is a form of modern day slavery that includes sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude. Sex trafficking is recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining someone for a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, pornography, or stripping. Any child under the age of 18 who is involved in a commercial sex act is automatically defined as a victim of trafficking.

Human trafficking can happen to anyone; however, youth are particularly vulnerable simply due to their young age and lack of experience, which makes them less equipped to make informed decisions when presented with a situation that may lead to trafficking.

There are many myths and misconceptions about human trafficking, fueled by depictions in movies and tv. You don't have to be kidnapped or otherwise taken or forcibly held to be a victim of exploitation. It's important to be aware of grooming, online safety, and the warning signs of a possible trafficking situation.

Learn more about abuse, trafficking and exploitation.

The first step in helping a child who is a victim of abuse, neglect, or child sex trafficking is to recognize the warning signs. 

Find out more about what human trafficking is and the types of trafficking that exists in our communities.

About Human Trafficking

Learn about our Child Advocacy Center and how we support children and their families who are victims of abuse.

About Child Advocacy

Learn ways to keep yourself safe from exploitation and other resources to combat human trafficking.

Safety Tips & Resources

Get in touch

Catskill Location & 24hr Support Helpline

Call our REACH & Child Advocacy Center helpline anytime, 24 hours a day at 518.943.4482. Trained staff provide crisis counseling and support services.

Located at 455 Main St., Catskill, NY 12414

Hudson Location

Our Child Advocacy Center in Hudson is available for Columbia County cases. Call 518.697.3320 for assistance. Please call our 24 hour helpline at 518.943.4482 if you need assistance after hours.

Located at 946 Columbia St., Hudson, NY 12534

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