Child Abuse and Maltreatment in Different Age Groups

Child abuse and maltreatment is not limited to a particular age.- it can occur in the INFANT, TODDLER, PRESCHOOL and SCHOOL-AGE YEARS. Choose ONE of the FOUR age groups and ***OUTLINE*** the type of abuse MOST COMMONLY seen among children of that age. Describe WARNING SIGNS and PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL assessment findings the nurse may see that could indicate child abuse. Discuss CULTURAL VARIATIONS of health practices that can be misidentified as child abuse. Describe the reporting mechanism in TEXAS STATE and NURSE RESPONSIBILITIES related to the reporting of suspected child abuse.


Child Abuse and Maltreatment in Different Age Groups

Child abuse refers to a situation where a caregiver or parent, whether through action or failing to act, causes death, injury, emotional harm, or the risk of serious harm to a child (Christin et al., 2015). Child abuse may take many forms, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, emotional, and exploitation abuse. The paper considers child abuse among school-age children and unveils the types of abuse experienced at this age. There is also a need to consider the warning signs, physical and emotional assessment findings the nurse is likely to see to indicate child abuse, among other aspects.

The types of abuse experienced by school-age children include sexual abuse, neglect, and physical abuse. Physical abuse may be earmarked by minor or major injuries such as burns, internal injuries, welts, bruises, head injuries, fractures, and lacerations, among others. There may also be neglect that includes educational neglect, lack of supervision, failure to provide basic needs such as healthcare, hygiene, and shelter food, among other needs. There is also sexual abuse that entails enticing or forcing a child to be involved or take part in sexual activity (Christin et al., 2015). The abuse may take the form of sexual intercourse, molestation, exploitation, and other forms of sexual abuse.

There are various physical, emotional, and warning signs that nurses may see that could indicate child abuse. The nurses may be able to recognize some patterns of worrying behaviors and are expected to contact the entire family. The physical assessment signs and symptoms include black eyes, cigarette burns, bruise marks that are shaped like a belt, fingers, or hands, and bruises on the back, genitals, and buttocks. The bruises are important, especially when they occur in areas that may not easily bruise, such as the chest, mouth, abdomen, or ears. The injury will still be suspected of abuse in a situation where it is not compatible with the level of development of a child and that it is implausible or cannot be explained. Sexual abuse may entail signs like behavioral problems, e.g., aggression, poor performance in schools, mutilation, vaginal or rectal bleeding, sexually transmitted disease. Other emotional signs that may indicate neglect or abuse include inactivity, insecure withdrawal, poor social interaction, and poor hygiene, among other signs (Stoltenborgh et al., 2015).

Erick Erickson’s framework of child development can be helpful in health assessment. The important event happening during the school-age is schooling, and one of the characteristics that the children in this age should exhibit is confidence, i.e., industry versus inferiority (McAdams & Zapata-Gietl, 2015). Children who do not exhibit self-confidence could be undergoing abuse or neglect, and there is a need to investigate further. The inability to form functional relationships, low self-esteem, and being withdrawn can also be other red flags.

 Considering cultural variations of health practices that can be misidentified as child abuse, it is true that culture shapes the manner in which individuals experience childhood and the different ways they raise their children. The behaviors that are considered abuse in one culture, such as corporal punishment, may not be considered acceptable in another culture. Cultural health practices include salting practices used to improve a newborn’s skin’s health can be risky. For instance, a few cases of hypernatremia and even death in a few children have been reported in children that had been salted since birth. There is scarification that is performed among some African cultures (Stoltenborgh et al., 2015). This entails intentional cutting ad burning of the skin in order to produce scars. Scarification is performed for various reasons, including social, religious, aesthetic, cultural, and therapeutic. However, the practice has led to infections such as blood-borne infections. Another practice called coining is practiced among Vietnamese Americans to treat minor ailments such as chills, headaches, and fever. The edge of the coin is used to rub an oiled skin. There have been cases of complications from coining that require skin grafts, especially when the heated oil on the skin caught fire (Stoltenborgh et al., 2015). These cultural practices can be misidentified as child abuse.

Texas law requires that anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect should quickly report it to the appropriate authorities. The mandatory reporting applies to all individuals, and it is not just limited to health professionals. A person who suspects child neglect or abuse and fails to report it can be charged with a state jail felony or misdemeanor. There are various platforms through which reporting is done. There is a telephone where one may call the Texas Abuse Hotline, or the allegations can also be reported to the same body through the internet. The internet system is not supposed to be used in urgent or emergency situations (Stoltenborgh et al., 2015). There is structured allegation information that one is supposed to provide.

Nurses have a professional obligation to report any signs of sexual or physical abuse and neglect in the young people that they care for. The nurses are also compelled under the mandatory reporting requirement and may unveil information to do with the seriousness and even the hidden nature of child abuse and neglect. In doing so, they also have to ensure that they are not putting the child at risk, i.e., safeguarding victims from further abuse.


Christian, C.W., & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. (2015). The evaluation of suspected child physical abuse. Pediatrics, 135(5), e1337-e1354.

McAdams, D.P., & Zapata-Gietl, C. (2015). Three strands of identity development across the human life course: Reading Erik Erikson in full. The Oxford Handbook of Identity Development, 81-94.

Stoltenborgh, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., Alink, L.R., & van IJzendoorn, M.H. (2015). The prevalence of child maltreatment across the globe: Review of a series of meta-analyses. Child Abuse Review, 24(1), 37-50.

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