Rep. Sheehan Urges Residents to Know the Signs of Child Abuse

Mokena, IL – State Representative Patrick Sheehan (R-Lockport) is using the last day of April, the observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of child abuse and neglect. This month-long initiative highlights the importance of individuals, families, and communities working together to safeguard the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of Illinois children.

“Child abuse often goes unnoticed because people may not recognize the warning signs, or they decide it’s none of their business,” said Sheehan. “However, turning a blind eye to child abuse only allows it to fester and perpetuate. As a police officer and now state representative, I encourage everyone to be a voice for the abused children of our state and familiarize yourself with the signs of child abuse.”

It’s crucial to remember that the average child tells seven adults they are being abused before a report is formally made. Moreover, up to 70% of child abuse cases go unreported, putting countless innocent children at risk.

To effectively combat child abuse, it’s crucial to recognize the warning signs. Here are 10 red flags that may indicate a child is suffering from abuse:

  1. Unexplained Injuries: Visible signs of physical abuse, such as bruises, cuts, or burns, particularly if they appear frequently or in patterns.
  2. Changes in Behavior: Sudden shifts in mood or demeanor, including increased aggression, withdrawal, or anxiety.
  3. Returning to Earlier Behaviors: Reverting to behaviors typical of younger children, like bedwetting or thumb-sucking, as a coping mechanism.
  4. Fear of Going Home: Reluctance or fear of returning home, which may indicate an unsafe environment.
  5. Changes in Eating: Dramatic weight fluctuations, binge eating, or hoarding food can signal emotional distress or neglect.
  6. Changes in Sleeping: Persistent nightmares, insomnia, or excessive sleeping may be signs of trauma.
  7. Changes in School Performance and Attendance: A sudden decline in academic performance or frequent absences could indicate a troubled home life.
  8. Lack of Personal Care and Hygiene: Consistently appearing dirty or unkempt, wearing ill-fitting or inappropriate clothing, or displaying poor hygiene.
  9. Risk-Taking Behaviors: Engaging in dangerous activities, self-harm, or substance abuse as a means to cope with or escape from abuse.
  10. Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors: Displaying knowledge or interest in sexual activities beyond their age or engaging in sexually explicit behaviors.

If you suspect a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed by abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to call 911 or the 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). In non-emergency situations, you can report suspected child abuse or neglect using the Online Reporting System at

For more information, please contact State Representative Patrick Sheehan’s district office at 708-649-2032.

State Representative Patrick Sheehan is the State Representative for House District 37, which includes the following communities in Will and Cook counties: Mokena, Homer Glen, Orland Park, New Lenox, Tinley Park, Orland Hills, Frankfort, and Lockport.