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Signs of Malnutrition and Neglect

Now You Know

You Know What to Do

Report child abuse within 24 hours when suspicion or  belief of a child suffering abuse.   Mandatory reporters are professionals who have frequent contact with children, generally those who work in health, mental health, education, law enforcement, child care, and social work, but we all have the responsibility to report when we suspect a child is being abused.

Signs of Possible Neglect

  • Seem inadequately  dressed for the weather (e.g., shorts and sandals in freezing temperatures)
  • Appear excessively listless and tired (due to no routine or structure around bedtime)
  • Report caring for younger siblings (when they themselves are underage or are developmentally not ready to do so)
  • Demonstrate poor hygiene or smell of urine or feces
  • Seem unusually small or thin or have a distended stomach (indicative of malnutrition)
  • Have unattended medical or dental problems, such as infected sores or badly decayed/abscessed teeth
  • Appear withdrawn
  • Crave unusual amounts of attention, even in eliciting negative responses in order to obtain it

Ohio Involvement on Malnutrition

Image result for pictures of school breakfastOhio Action for Healthy Kids is one of 5 sponsoring organizations of the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge. The Ohio School Breakfast Challenge is a statewide challenge geared towards increasing and sustaining student participation in the School Breakfast Program, ensuring Ohio students start each day ready to learn. Schools participate by planning to start up or expand their breakfast services and implementing those plans. Schools that meet the goals of the challenge will be recognized for their accomplishments. Other sponsors of the challenge include the American Dairy Association Mideast, Children’s Hunger Alliance, Ohio School Nutrition Association and the Ohio Department of Education.

Child / Parent / Family Dynamics

Child abuse occurs in family systems, so when looking for signs of child abuse, do not only hone in on the child.  The parent and family dynamics may hold just as many, if not more signs than seen in the child alone.  Such as:

  • Parents who have unrealistic expectations of physical or academic performance for a child
  • Parents who were abused or neglected as children
  • Parents who look to their child to meet their own personal/emotional needs
  • Families blaming one child for all of their problems
  • Insistence of using physical discipline in school
  • Families who rarely interact with each other, seem cold and distant


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