abuse is defined by law (Title 10A, Section 1-1-105) as harm, threatened
harm, or failure to protect from harm or threatened harm, to the
health, safety, or welfare of a child by a person responsible for
the child's health, safety, or welfare, including, but not limited
to, nonaccidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, or sexual
or threatened harm to the health or safety of a child means any
real or threatened physical, mental, or emotional injury or damage
to the body or mind that is not accidental, including, but not limited
to, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, or dependency.
and shocking abuse includes, but is not limited to, aggravated physical
abuse that results in serious bodily, mental, or emotional injury.
Serious bodily injury means injury that involves:
A substantial risk of death
Extreme physical pain
A loss or impairment of the function of a body
member, organ, or mental faculty
An injury to an internal or external organ
or the body
A bone fracture
Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation
Chronic abuse, including, but not limited to,
physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation that
is repeated or continuing
Torture, including, but not limited to, inflicting,
participating in, or assisting in inflicting, intense physical or
emotional pain upon a child repeatedly over a period of time for
the purpose of coercing or terrorizing a child for the purpose of
satisfying the craven, cruel, or prurient desires of the perpetrator
or another person
Any other similar aggravated circumstance
Abused children need your help.
Abused children are innocent victims who need your
help. View the typical signs and causes
of abuse. Then learn how to respond to a child's disclosure of abuse.
Help is available
The Department of Human Services - Child Welfare Division (DHS) and other state and community agencies provide a number of services
and programs to help children and their families prevent and reduce the incidents and effects of child abuse and neglect.
If abuse is reported, the Child Abuse Network brings together medical, mental health, investigative and legal professionals from multiple agencies to try to determine whether child abuse has occurred.
State law requires EVERY PERSON to report suspicion
of abuse to the Department of Human Services.
||(800) 4ACHILD [(800) 422-4453]
Types of Abuse
Physical abuse is any act, regardless of intent, that results in physical injury or threat of physical injury to a child. Physical abuse may result when a child is kicked, thrown, shaken, burned, cut, choked, squeezed or otherwise battered.
Sexual Abuse or Exploitation
Child sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child for the sexual
gratification of an adult or significantly older person. It is called
incest if it occurs between a child and any family member.
According to Oklahoma law, sexual abuse includes but is not limited
to incest, rape, and lewd or indecent acts or proposals made to
a child. Sexual exploitation includes but is not limited to allowing,
permitting or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, lewd,
obscene, or pornographic photographing, filming, or the depiction of
a child in those acts. Sexual abuse can also include verbal stimulation,
obscene phone calls, exposure, voyeurism, fondling, attempted intercourse,
and vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
Neglect is the failure or omission to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, special care that is made necessary by the physical and mental condition of the child, or abandonment.
Back to Top
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
It is important to remember that the following could also be signs of conditions other than child abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Unexplained bruises, redness or swelling
- Unexplained burns, particularly in identifiable shapes
- Frequent accidents and unexplained fractures or lacerations
- Bite marks, welts or bald spots
Back To Top
- Psychosomatic illnesses
- Poor social skills
- "Flinches" easily, seems easily frightened
- Fearful of returning home
- Frequent absences or tardiness
- Unkempt or "sloppy" appearance
- Hyperactive or easily distracted
- Lies excessively or gives implausible explanation for injuries
- Moves awkwardly or acts as if sore
- Avoids changing clothes in front of others (i.e., changing into
- Wears clothes that cover the entire body, even in hot weather
- Frequent emotional outbursts, either excessively angry or tearful
- Isolated, seems depressed; may seem "flat" in appearance or joyless
- Avoids questions about caregivers
- Chronic runaway
- Poor self-esteem
- Disruptive, disrespectful or aggressive
- Cruelty to animals or younger children
- Learning disorders, poor school performance
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Genital pain, itching and/or bleeding
- Stomach aches
- Problems with sleep (too much, too little, nightmares
- Problems with appetite (eats too much or too little)
Back To Top
- Excessive masturbation
- Sexualized play or behavior
- Unexplained fears
- Regressive behavior
- Low self-esteem
- Withdrawal from others
- Difficulty concentrating, problems in school
- Animal cruelty
- Suicide attempts
- Repeated attempts to run away
- Alcohol/drug use
- Any significant changes from what is normal for that particular child
Signs of Neglect
- Poor hygiene, body odor, dirty or scaly skin
- Inappropriate clothing for weather (e.g.; heavy clothing in hot weather)
- Torn or dirty clothing
- Distended stomach
- Speech disorders (i.e., stuttering)
- Failure to thrive
- Unattended medical or dental needs
- Lack of age appropriate supervision
- Chronic illnesses (skin ulcers, allergies, etc.)
- Thinning hair
Back To Top
- Withdrawn, isolated
- Aggressive or hyperactive
- Begging, stealing or hoarding food
- Poor social skills
- Frequent school absences or tardiness
- Listless, lethargic or falls asleep in school
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Child states caregivers are absent or child is alone frequently
- Delinquent behavior
- Assumes "adult role" or seems "parentified"
What if a child tells me about abuse?
Back To Top
- Remain calm and refrain from expressing shock.
- Listen attentively to what the child has to say, but do not
solicit details or ask probing questions. It is very important
for the professionals to talk to the child and obtain the details
of the alleged abuse in the child’s own words.
- Speak softly, using simple words and sentences. Use the child's
- Tell the child that you believe him/her and that they did
the right thing by telling.
- Let the child know that what happened was not the child's
fault, no matter what. Tell the child that he/she did
nothing to cause it to happen.
- Be careful about overly criticizing the offender. The child
might care about that person and only wants the abuse to stop.
It might be helpful to explain that the person needs help because
what he/she did is "not okay."
- Let the child know that you plan to call some people who will
try to help.