Warning Signs: Child Abuse on the Rise as Families Shelter in Place

April 20, 2020

National Child Abuse Prevention Month Poster

AUSTIN, Texas – Given our current circumstances involving COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders, along with the stress and anxiety of isolation and economic uncertainty, reports of child abuse are on the rise. In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Bollier Ciccone LLP is sharing warning signs that a child may be in an abusive environment.

“This is a cruel side effect of Covid-19,” says Bollier Ciccone LLP family law attorney, Leslie J. Bollier. “Unfortunately, we see too much abuse during normal times. Now, kids aren’t with teachers, extended family, friends, and neighbors who might normally detect these warning signs. During this time, it is important to be aware that many children and adults are suffering due to abuse in the home.”

The trauma associated with child abuse or neglect is associated with an increased risk of depression and suicide attempts, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, social and educational problems, domestic violence in adulthood, and other chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer among others.

In divorce and child custody situations, parents may not be with their child at all times because they share custody. Be aware of the following signs of child abuse and maltreatment:


  • Signs of malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unattended physical or medical problems

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruises, burns or welts
  • Child appears frightened of a parent or caregiver

Sexual Abuse

  • Pain, bleeding, redness or swelling in anal or genital area
  • Age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self or others
  • Age-inappropriate knowledge of sex

Emotional Abuse

  • Extremes in behavior, ranging from overly aggressive to overly passive
  • Delayed physical, emotional or intellectual development

Child Abuse

  • Child develops new fears of situations or people and may be withdrawn, shy or anxious
  • Child may develop different emotional changes or behaviors
  • Child may have a change in sleeping pattern, such as the inability to stay asleep, or experience of nightmares
  • Child may have a change in eating habits, such as overeating or sudden loss of appetite
  • Child may lack concentration and start to have changes in school performance or behavior
  • Child may experience a lack of boundaries and be overly friendly, or overly obedient
  • Child may engage in self-harm, or even begin to use substances or attempt suicide

If you think a child is being mistreated, take immediate action. Call the Texas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-254-5400, or visit TXAbuseHotline.org.

For more information, visit childwelfare.gov or centerforchildprotection.org.

About Bollier Ciccone LLP

Since 1990, Bollier Ciccone LLP has earned the trust of thousands of clients and businesses throughout Austin and Central Texas by setting dependable expectations and delivering results. BC’s team provides premium, unmatched personalized services to clients seeking Austin’s best family and civil law attorneys. Learn more about the firm, including its community involvement, at BClawTX.com.