How does abuse affect toddlers? According to Amanda Perkins MSN, RN, “In the United States, there are four recognized types of child abuse: physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, and neglect. Out of these four types, neglect is the most common, followed by physical abuse.” Child abuse occurs in all ages although infants/children are the most common. When a child is abuse, usually some social development difficulties and mental health problems precede the incident lasting their entire lives.
Toddlers are 12-36 months of age and are one of the most common age group to be abused, especially since they are not able to communicate as well. Toddlers may display psychological and physical symptoms, or a combination of both. Examples of physical abuse seen in toddlers are: burns, bruising in different stages, lacerations, fractures, dislocation, injuries that mirror the shape of an object, welts, fear of going home, and wariness of adults/caregivers.
Possible signs of sexual abuse recurrent urinary tract infections, STDs, enur e sis, redness/swelling of genitalia, and inappropriate interest in sexuality beyond the child’s developmental level. Behavioral changes can include poor hygiene, developmental delays, lack of supervision, apathy, depression, hostility, and difficulty concentrating.
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There are some cultures that have healing methods used that causes petechiae or bruising. These methods can be misconstrued as child abuse or maltreatment, and often get reported to CPS. Examples of these healing methods include “coining”, “cupping”, and “spooning”, which produce symmetrical markings on the skin. These healing methods are used in traditional Chinese culture. As nurse we are obligated to report any sign or suspicions of abuse, which is mandated in all 50 states.
The failure to report any sign of abuse is, a crime itself. When an abused kid comes into our hospital/clinic we are supposed to notify Child Protective Services (CPS) and local Police departments in severe cases, where the child is separated from the parent. Children are precious gifts from God, for which our jobs are to advocate and protect them from any possible abuse.
Perkins. A. (2018). Nursing Center: The red flags of child abuse. Volume 16 (2), p 34 – 41. Retrieved from: https://www.nursingcenter.com/cearticle?an=00152258-201803000-00008&Journal_ID=417221&Issue_ID=4524655