NYC Resources 311 Office of the Mayor
NYC Administration for Children's Services: The City's child welfare agency, dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families

Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Many people fear that reporting child abuse or neglect will destroy a family. The truth, however, is that getting help can protect children from further harm and assist the family in facing and overcoming its problems. We can all help end child abuse by becoming aware of the signs and reporting suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Some signs of child maltreatment include:

Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse & Neglect - Questions Often Asked by Friends, Neighbors and Relatives 

Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse & Neglect - Questions Often Asked by Friends, Neighbors and Relatives

Download the pamphlet (PDF)

in English | in Spanish

Call (212) 341-0999 for copies

1. Signs of Abuse


  • Bruises, welts, or swelling
  • Sprains or fractures
  • Burns
  • Lacerations or abrasions


  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
  • Pain or itching in the genital area; bruises or bleeding in the external genital area
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy

2. Signs of Neglect


  • Lack of adequate supervision, nutrition, or shelter
  • Poor hygiene
  • Inappropriate dress


  • Infrequent attendance in school


  • Unattended medical or dental needs

3. Emotional neglect or abuse

  • Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical development
  • Substance abuse

4. Behavioral signs of abuse or neglect

  • Uncomfortable with physical contact
  • Low self-esteem
  • Behavior extremes, such as appearing overly compliant and passive or very demanding and aggressive
  • Frequently at home with no caretaker
  • Lags in physical, emotional, or intellectual development.

Nationally, of the children for whom the allegations of maltreatment were proven, 56% were neglected, 25% were physically abused, 13% were sexually abused, 6% were emotionally abused, and 13% were classified as suffering from some other form of abuse. (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Maltreatment 1997.)

How to Report Child Abuse and Neglect

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