Abusive behavior comes in many forms, and all types of abuse and neglect have long lasting impacts. Effects of abuse include a lack of trust and relationship difficulties, core feelings of worthlessness, and difficulty regulating emotions.
Types of Abuse and Warning Signs
Emotional abuse can severely damage a child’s mental health or social development. Warning signs include being excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong; showing extremes in behavior (extremely compliant, demanding, passive, aggressive); or not seeming to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
Neglect is a pattern of failing to meet the child’s basic needs. Warning signs include wearing ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate clothing for the weather; having consistently bad hygiene; having untreated illnesses and physical injuries; being unsupervised or left alone frequently; and/or allowed to play in unsafe situations.
Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child. Warning signs include frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts; injuries that may appear to have a pattern, such as marks from a hand or belt; shying away from touch or flinching at sudden movements; seeming afraid to go home; or wearing inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
Sexual abuse is any act of sexual nature threatened or performed. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether touching is involved or not. Warning signs include having trouble walking or sitting; displaying knowledge of sexual acts inappropriate for their age, or even exhibiting seductive behavior; making strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason; or not wanting to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
To report child abuse or neglect, please call South Dakota Child Protection Services at 877.244.0864. Intake Specialists will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. If reporting an emergency situation before 8 a.m., after 5 p.m., on the weekends, or during a holiday, please contact your local law enforcement. If you believe that a child is in immediate danger, please contact 911 for help.