Unit Two Creating a Safe and Healthful Environment
Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.
3–5 years of age. Neglect was the largest category,
representing about 75 percent of maltreatment.
Physical abuse was the next largest category,
followed by sexual abuse.
Neglect and abuse can happen in any family
type or socio-economic group. Certain situations
increase the risk. The three leading factors are
fi nancial problems, substance abuse, and the
stress of handling parental responsibilities. Single
parenthood, isolation from others, and teen
parenthood are other factors. Violence between
parents can also lead to abuse of their child.
As a child care professional, you are very
concerned about the health and safety of the
children in your care. You do everything you can
to see that the center is a safe place for them to be.
However, the children are not in your care all the
time. When they are away from the center, some
children are abused. Because you are with the
children for several hours a day, you may be the
one to notice signs that a child is being abused or
neglected. State law requires you to report known
or suspected cases of child abuse. Follow your
center’s procedures for reporting.
Studies show that abused children often
become troubled adults. Abused and neglected
children are more likely to drop out of school, be
unemployed, and commit violent crimes. When
they are parents, they are also at high risk for
becoming child abusers.
There are four types of child abuse:
nonaccidental physical injury, neglect, emotional
abuse, and sexual abuse. Be aware of the signs of
each type of abuse.
Nonaccidental Physical Injury
The most visible type of child abuse is
nonaccidental physical injury (Figure 11.9).
This is physical abuse infl icted on purpose.
Children being abused in this way often come
to school with bruises, bites, burns, or other
injuries. They may have frequent complaints of
Physically abused children often refuse to
discuss their injuries. This may be because their
abusers threaten them with further harm if they
tell someone. Other children may talk about
harsh punishment they have received.
Often these children come to the center
wearing clothing to hide their injuries. Their
clothing may be unsuitable for the weather.
As a result of being physically abused, some
children may show an unusual fear of adults.
Kelly is one example. She was abused by her
father for two years. A teacher at Kelly’s child
care contacted authorities with her suspicions.
Kelly had an unusual fear of adults, especially
her father. Whenever he came to pick her up,
she backed away and avoided eye contact
with him.
Child abuse was suspected for other
reasons as well. Kelly often arrived at the
center with visible bruises. She also wore long-
sleeve turtleneck tops in warm weather. One
hot summer day, her teacher was concerned
that Kelly might be too warm. When she was
changing Kelly’s top, the teacher found many
bruises. Kelly could not explain the injuries.
Figure 11.9 Signs of Possible Physical Abuse
Child has unexplained or repeated injuries (bruises, bites, cuts, burns, fractures)
Child and parent provide illogical or conflicting explanations for injuries
Child complains frequently of pain
Child lacks ability to give or seek affection
Child avoids giving or receiving affection
Child displays fear of adults, including parents
Child wears clothing that can hide injuries, even when unsuitable for the weather
Child can be withdrawn or aggressive
Child appears anxious about routine activities such as toileting, eating, and sleeping
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