Abuse And Neglect

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Abuse can take many forms. It may be physical,psychological, sexual, or financial. Neglect occurs when a caregiverdoesn’t meet the basic needs of a child, elder, or dependent adult.

What are the causes and risks of the injury?

A combination of psychological, social, and economic troubles may contribute toabuse and neglect. Financial hardship caused by drug abuse orchronic medical conditions increases the risk for abuse and neglect. The riskis highest among families with many serious problems. Children who have beenabused may grow up to abuse others.

Abuse and neglect can also take place in nursing homes or other care settings.Overworked, poorly trained staff might be more likely to abuse vulnerableresidents.

The long-term effects of abuse and neglect are many and varied. Emotional,psychological, and physical damage can take years to heal. In some cases, thetrauma is never completely resolved. Death can even occur in extreme cases.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?

A person who has been abused or neglected may have manyproblems. Anxiety,sleep disorderssuch as insomnia, and other related conditions can be signs ofstress.Injuries in various stages of healing and unexplained injuries are other signs. Aneglected person may show signs of poor nutrition or hygiene. His or her medicalneeds, such as healthcare appointments and prescriptions for medicine, maynot be getting met.

Some of the signs that a person has been abused or neglected areas follows:

  • dehydration
  • inappropriate or inadequate clothing
  • malnutrition
  • poor personal hygiene
  • unexplained bruises,cuts,head injuries, or bone fractures
  • unsafe, unsanitary, or unclean living conditions
  • untreated medical conditions
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the injury recognized?

    Abuse may be suspected if signs such as those listed above, for example unexplained injuries, arenoted. Neglect may be suspected if a child is often absent from school or tardy or if he or she arrives unusually early. A child might come to schoolinappropriately dressed for the weather. A child who is not gaining weight atan expected rate might also be a victim of neglect. Sometimes a problem can bedetected just by talking to a child.

    Some state laws require professionals such as teachers and healthcare providersto report to a hotline any possible cases of child abuse or neglect. Whether ornot the law requires this, a person who has reason to suspect that a childmight be the victim of neglect, physical or sexual abuse, or threatened harmshould report it.

    If an adult relative, friend, or neighbor appears to be suffering from abuse orneglect, it may help to talk to the person about options or call adultprotective services. Bedsores and weight loss in an elderly person may bereason to suspect neglect. Financial abuse might also be present.

    Child or adult protective services will check into any suspected abuse orneglect.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the injury?

    Prevention begins with awareness. Campaigns and programs that broadcast thewarning signs of abuse and neglect may help prevent these problems. Most stateshave a confidential hotline open 24 hours a day so cases of suspected abuse canbe reported.

    Friends, neighbors, and family members can help in the following ways.

  • Ask a child or adult directly about signs of possible abuse.
  • Show concern, so that the person knows there is someone to turn to forhelp.
  • Talk with the person who is being abused. Getting support can make himor her feel less isolated.
  • Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the injury?

    Treatment depends on the type of injury. The goal is to ensure the physical andemotional safety of the victim. Doctors, nurses, social workers, and otherprofessionals may be involved in helping to meet the person’s needs.Hospitalization may be needed if malnutrition or other serious physicalconditions are present. Counseling services may help with emotional andpsychological problems. If a person is in danger, he or she may be taken intoprotective custody. Treatment should include other family members andcaregivers.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    In cases of severe abuse or neglect, the victim may need to be moved from thehome or care setting. He or she may have to live with someone else, in ashelter, or in a nursing home to be safe.

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    Child and adult protective services perform follow-up visits in cases of abuseor neglect. Medical follow-up care is important, too. This helps to ensure aperson’s return to good health. It is also a way to check on whether caregiversare behaving responsibly.

    Article type: xmedgeneral