Immediate Effects of Child Abuse


The immediate effects of child abuse can be extremely serious, especially in infants, where some of the serious injuries and fatalities result from shaking during the first 12 months of life. In both infants and older children, the effects of child abuse vary according to the types of abuse or neglect and can be identified by the following signs.

Physical effects of child abuse
1. Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
2. Bite marks
3. Anti-social behavior
4. Problems in school
5. Fear of adults

Emotional effects of child abuse
1. Apathy
2. Depression
3. Hostility or stress
4. Lack of concentration
5. Eating disorders

Sexual effects of child abuse
1. Inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts
2. Nightmares and bed wetting
3. Drastic changes in appetite
4. Overcompliance or excessive aggression
5. Fear of a particular person or family member

1. Unsuitable clothing for weather
2. Appearance is dirty or unbathed
3. Extreme hunger
4. Apparent lack of supervision

Long-range effects of child abuse

Statistics underscore the alarming effects of child abuse over time:

  • 36.7% of all women in prison and 14.4% of all men in prison in the United States were abused as children.
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 3.8 times more likely to become addicted to drugs.
  • One third of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.

For more information on the effects of child abuse, refer to Information on Child Abuse.


CFC# 11571