The signs of abuse and neglect to look for

On Sunday, a 17-year-old escaped from a home where she and 12 siblings had been held captive by their parents in Perris, Calif. Both parents were arrested for torture and child endangerment.

At a press conference about the case, officials said one of the most important things that can be done to stop similar situations is to call and report suspected cases of abuse.

Here are the signs to look for and report, especially if you spot a pattern, according to the government's Child Welfare Information Gateway.

To reach the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, call 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453) or look up your local number.


Child often misses school
Child steals or begs for food or money
Child lacks necessary medical care
Child has severe body odor and/or does not seem clean
Child does not properly dress for the weather
Child says no one is home to care for them
Parent/guardian and/or child abuses drugs or alcohol
Parent/guardian does not appear to care about the child
Parent/guardian exhibits bizarre behavior


Child has injuries that child and/or parent/guardian cannot explain including burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes, especially after an absence from school
Child seems frightened of parent/guardian and does not want to go home with them
Child shrinks away from approaching adults
Child says that their parent/guardian hurt them
Child and/or parent abuses animals/pets

Parent/guardian describes the child in a very negative way
Parent/guardian uses harsh physical discipline
There is a family history of abuse


Child has trouble walking or sitting
Child suddenly will not participate in physical activities
Child says they wet the bed and/or have nightmares
Child has a sudden increased or decreased appetite
Child demonstrates unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
Child becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, especially if younger than 14 years old
Child runs away
Child says they have been sexually abused
Child develops quick attachment to new environments and people
Parent/guardian severely limits child's contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
Parent/guardian is secretive and keeps to themselves
Parent/guardian is jealous or controlling


Child exhibits extreme behavior in terms of passivity/aggression, compliance or maturity
Child has delayed emotional and/or physical development
Child has attempted suicide
Child says they do not care about the parent
Parent consistently scolds, belittles and/or blames child
Parent does not show concern for solving child's problems
Parent/guardian rejects child
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