What are signs of possible child abuse or neglect?

A child who exhibits any of the following signs may be a victim of physical abuse:

    • Has unexplained injuries/marks, such as burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes
    • Is reluctant to explain injuries after returning home from being in someone else’s care
    • Seems scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or aggressive
    • Seems frightened of a parent or parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
    • Shrinks at the approach of adults
    • Shows unusual changes in eating and sleeping habits
    • Reports injury or abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver
    • Abuses animals or pets

    Consider the possibility of physical abuse when a parent or other caregiver:

    • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for a child’s injury or provides an explanation that is inconsistent with an injury
    • Shows little concern for a child or a child’s injuries
    • Sees a child as entirely bad, burdensome, or worthless
    • Uses harsh physical discipline with a child
    • Has a history of abusing animals or pets

    A child who exhibits the following signs may be a victim of neglect:

    • Is frequently absent from school
    • Begs or steals food or money
    • Lacks needed medical care, including dental or vision care
    • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
    • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
    • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
    • States that there is no one at home to provide care

    Consider the possibility of neglect when a parent or other caregiver:

    • Appears to be indifferent to a child
    • Seems apathetic or depressed
    • Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
    • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
    • Repeatedly leaves younger children outside or alone with no visible caregiver

    A child who exhibits any of the following signs may be a victim of sexual abuse:

    • Has difficulty walking or sitting
    • Experiences bleeding, bruising, or swelling in the genital area
    • Suddenly refuses to go to school
    • Reports nightmares or wets the bed
    • Engages in self-harm, including cutting, burning, or otherwise hurting his or herself
    • Has a sudden change in appetite or shows signs of an eating disorder
    • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior or displays inappropriate sexual behavior with other children or adults
    • Becomes pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted disease, particularly if under age 14
    • Runs away
    • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver
    • Attaches very quickly to strangers or new adults in their environment

    Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when a parent or other caregiver:

    • Tries to be a child’s friend rather than maintaining an appropriate adult role
    • Repeatedly compliments the child’s physical appearance or requests pictures inappropriate to the adult’s role
    • Flatters the child into thinking that their relationship is a secret or romantic
    • Makes up excuses to be alone with a child
    • Talks with a child about the adult’s personal problems or relationships
    • Exposes a child to inappropriate media of a sexual nature, including pornography

    A child who exhibits the following signs may be a victim of mental injury:

    • Shows extremes in behavior, such as being overly compliant or demanding, extremely passive, or aggressive
    • Either inappropriately assumes the role of an adult in the home (e.g., parents or protects other children), acts inappropriately infantile, or engages in self-harm, including display of repetitive behaviors such as rocking or head-banging
    • Does not seem to be attached to the parent/caregiver
    • Demonstrates a noticeable decline in cognitive abilities or self care

    Consider the possibility of mental injury when the parent or other adult caregiver:

    • Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child
    • Describes the child negatively
    • Overtly rejects the child
    • Excessively takes an apparently healthy child for medical appointments with different doctors or experts, seemingly rejecting the advice of medical professionals

    If you suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and help the family receive assistance. Any concerned person can report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Reporting your concerns is not making an accusation; rather, it is a request for an investigation or assessment to determine if help is needed. You do not need actual proof of child abuse or neglect; it is the responsibility of the local department of social services to determine if abuse or neglect occurred. You have the absolute right to remain anonymous as a reporter.

  • Above information provided by Maryland Department of Human Resources

What do I do if I suspect a child is experiencing abuse?

Reporting child abuse and neglect is everyone’s responsibility. Children need us to pay attention to some of the common signs of possible child abuse or neglect.  If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call 911 or contact Caroline County Department of Social Services Office of Child Support.

Click here for the Caroline County Sheriff and local town police.

Visit the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline website or call 1-800-4-A-Child.


Additional Resources

Still need more information?

Please contact us at 410-479-8301 or carolinecasa@verizon.net.

Make a Financial Contribution:
Become a Community Partner

We believe strong communities build strong families.  Community Partners make a commitment to the children of Caroline County by providing us with financial support as well as the opportunity to meet and connect with folks who are interested in taking our training course and becoming the person who makes a real difference in a foster care child's life. Partnership Program Brochure

Make an In-Kind Donation:
Cleaning out your home or office?  There are many things we could use in our CASA office!
  • Office supplies like copy paper, file folders, etc.
  • Non-perishable food and beverages to be used during trainings.
  • Gift cards for gas or restaurants that our CASA's could use during their visits with their child
  • Gift cards or items for the auction at our annual fundraiser.
Other Ways to Support:
  • Host an event such as a car wash, bake sale, etc. to benefit CASA of Caroline.
  • Shop AmazonSmile and designate CASA of Caroline as your charity of choice.
  • Invite us to come present to your group, organization or workplace.
  • Stay connected with us by signing up for our newsletter and e-mail updates. 

Get In Touch

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114 Market Street, Suite 100
Denton, MD 21629


(410) 479-8302

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Denton - April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.  This year's national theme, Thriving Children & Families: Prevention with a Purposerecognizes the importance of communities working together to help families thrive and prevent child maltreatment. During the month of April and throughout the year, CASA of Caroline is encouraging our community to increase awareness about child and family well-being, and work together to implement effective strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Please show your support and increase awareness of child abuse by "planting" a pinwheel in the Denton Community Garden during the first weekend in April.  Pinwheels were chosen as the national symbol for Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention because they are a lighthearted and whimsical reminder of childhood and they represent our vision for a world where all children grow up happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in supportive families and communities.  Pinwheels will be available beginning Friday, April 2 at: Patti's Petals, Joviality, The Foundry, Purple Peake, and other locations around the county.  Please check back here for a complete list.  Thank you to this year's pinwheel sponsors, Denton Rotary and Purple Peake! 

If you're a crafty person, try creating your own pinwheel display using the instructions on this page!  We are also asking for children in the community to help "plant hope" and fill our CASA of Caroline windows with pinwheels. Please use the coloring page below and send it to us using the instructions at the bottom of the coloring sheet.   It will take 240 pinwheels to fill our windows so please "Help Plant Hope"!

We have also developed a full month of activities for you and your family to raise awareness and help prevent child abuse by supporting and encouraging healthy family activities.  Please check out our calendar and find the activities that you and your family will enjoy doing together.  The most important thing we can do to help children thrive is to support families before they reach a crisis.  Please join us in this month-long effort to end child abuse and "Change a Child's Story"!