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What is Child Abuse?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what child abuse looks like. Use this resource to help determine when and how to act accordingly.

  • Neglect Indicators

    Child neglect can take several forms, including physical, emotional, and educational neglect.

    Physical neglect occurs when caregivers fail to meet a child’s needs for housing, supervision, clothing, nutrition, medical care, or support.

    Emotional neglect happens when caregivers aren’t meeting the child’s needs for social development and psychological development.

    Educational neglect takes place when a caregiver isn’t giving the child necessary and age-appropriate education.

    Watch for these signs of neglect:

    • Poor hygiene or uncleanliness on a regular basis causing a health issue
    • Lack of proper clothing
    • Chronically hungry, tired, or lethargic
    • Begs for clothing or collects leftover items
    • Shows up for school chronically late, early, or absent
    • Takes on adult responsibilities

  • Abuse Indicators

    Child abuse can take several forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. These are some of the factors that may indicate physical abuse is taking place:

    • Bruising
    • Burns
    • Repeated injuries
    • Hiding injuries
    • Extreme behaviors (like aggression or withdrawal)
    • Unexplained shyness or fear of physical contact with a caregiver/parent
    • Excessive crying or depression
    • Antisocial behavior
    • Substance abuse

    Here are indicators that sexual abuse may be occurring:

    • Sexually transmitted disease
    • Pregnancy
    • Discharge
    • Pain, irritation, bleeding, or bruising in genital regions
    • Underclothing that is stained or bloody
    • Urinary or yeast infections
    • Prostitution
    • Substance abuse
    • Sudden changes in social behaviors, inability to relate to peers, promiscuous or seductive behavior, aggression, delinquency, nightmares, poor performance in school, etc.

    Signs that emotional abuse may be happening:

    • Eating disorders
    • Regressive behaviors, such as sucking one’s thumb
    • Poor peer relationships
    • Isolation
    • Substance abuse
    • Display of cruel behaviors
    • Dangerous behaviors, such as substance abuse, taking risks, suicide attempts, prostitution, delinquency at school, and setting fires
  • Mandated Reporter Training

    Athens County Children Services offers mandated reporter training for all those in professions which are considered, by Ohio law, to be mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. This training encompasses what it means to be a mandated reporter, what signs of abuse and neglect to look for in children, how to make a report and what that process looks like.

    For more information about our mandated reporter training or if you would like to schedule a training for your organization, please call our Screening Supervisor, Mindy VanBibber at 740-592-3061 or e-mail her at

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How Do I Report Child Abuse?


Evaluate the child’s behavior based on the list of behaviors above that result from child abuse or child neglect. Consider if there is emotional, physical, educational, or sexual abuse or neglect.

Gather Info

Gather as much information as you can, including the behaviors you’ve witnessed, the child’s name, age, address, caretakers’ names and address, and the alleged perpetrator’s information.

Make the Call

We are available and mandated to receive reports of alleged child abuse or neglect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, contact us at (740) 592-3061, or in case of emergency at (740) 400-7059.