When a romantic relationship that involves a child ends in a separation or divorce, one of the parents may be awarded primary custody of the child while the other parent is awarded visitation rights. This is known as a custody order and it is informed by what the family court considers to be in the “child’s best interest.”
However, it is not uncommon for either parent to abuse their own child. Child abuse, or child maltreatment, is quite common and can take a number of forms such as emotional, physical or even sexual abuse.
How to detect child abuse
Spotting the signs of child abuse can be challenging, especially if you are not living with the child under the same roof. This is because a child who has been abused is often afraid to disclose their predicament to a third party, often because they doubt if they will be believed. Sometimes, the abusing parent may intimidate the child into keeping mum about their ordeal.
That said, here are some of the physical signs you may look out for if you suspect your child is being abused:
- Bruises, burns or head injuries that are inconsistent with the way the injury is claimed to have happened, or injuries that cannot be explained.
- The child’s disclosure of the abuse at the hands of the other parent
- Sudden weight gain that cannot be linked to any illness
- Bleeding, injury or discharge from the child’s genitals
Besides the physical signs, a child who is abused can also exhibit the following behavioral changes.
- Timid behaviors such as unexplained fears, depression and nightmares
- Sexual behaviors that are evidently inappropriate for their age
- Attempts to run away from home
- Diminished self-esteem
- Poor performance at school
- Extremely aggressive or passive behavior
Every child deserves a safe and conducive environment for their upbringing. However, if you suspect the other parent is abusing your child, then it is imperative that you take appropriate steps to protect the child by petitioning for custody modification.