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Child Abuse

Suspicions of Child Abuse

09/02/2004

Question:

I have a 4 1/2 yr. old grandson. I have kept him a large part of his life. My suspicions started about 2 years ago. I kept finding bruises on him. Then the mother remarried a guy that I think is an okay guy. But then she found out he had a sexual problem of having to have sex 15 to 20 times a day. She made him go for counseling. Then my grandson has started to have yeast infections. He continues to get them. She will send me anti-fungal medication, but it is a different medication each time so I am suspecting that she is taking him to a different doctor each time. I would think that a doctor would report this many yeast infections in a little boy. I am so suspicious that I have taken pictures of all the bruises and the medication. I also have copies of pictures that she took of his penis when he was a infant and she tried to re-circumsize him because she did not think it was done right,(by ripping back the skin until it was raw) but said a doctor told her to do this, and copies of pictures of him naked at her kitchen table seemingly playing with himself that she thinks was so funny. She makes everything seem like it is okay and has an excuse for everything that I ask her about. To make matters worse, EVERYTIME AND I MEAN EVERYTIME I take him back to her, he cries and shakes so bad. When we tell him he has to go home, he begs us not to take him home. I try to tell him how much his mama loves and will miss him but it does no good. She has seen this behavior and makes very lightly of it. The last time I had him-- his daddy and my son in law tried to get him dressed and he was so upset, they could not even dress him. When I got him home, I told her she has got to investigate what is wrong with him. This is not right!!!!! She again made is seem like nothing but I told her something is very wrong and she needs to find out what it is!!!!! She realized my concern. She has now refused to let us see him-- we are now in the middle of a visitation battle with the courts. We are just waiting on a court date. But, I am so afraid for him. I do not want to accuse at this time when it will seem like I am doing it for revenge. But I have to know that he is alright. I have the pictures that I have taken of the bruises, the underwear with the blood on it and the pictures of all the medication for these awful yeast infections that he continues to get!! I read another letter that you got about Where will he be placed??? I will die if he is put in a foster home!! I want him with me if I report this. I am right now waiting on a court date to get our visitation established. When we get him, I want to keep him and go to Child Protective Services and see if my suspicions are valid. I do not want to cause this child anymore trama. But I do not know how long it will be before we get a court date and get to see this child. I do not know what to do and am so afraid if I do this, the mother can keep my precious grandchild from me forever. Can you tell me what to do? This child is my life and I love him so much--But I am so afraid for him and the court system always sends these children "back to their abusers". But I will do whatever I have to do to see this child and protect him!! Give me some advise on what I need or have to do!

Answer:

It sounds like you have many concerns about your grandson and there are several issues to address:

The recurrent yeast infections you describe can be the result of many situations - failure to take a medicine appropriately, (obesity - would delete), poor hygiene, or misdiagnosis of a rash as a yeast infection could all be possible reasons for your grandson's "recurrent" infections. Recurrent yeast infections are not associated with abuse.

Likewise, the masturbation behavior you describe can be perfectly normal in a 4 year old boy and does not, by itself, indicate any inappropriate contact has occurred.

Bruising too can be normal in an active 4 year old child. Accidental bruising tends to be common over bony prominences such as the shins, forearms, and the forehead. If you are noticing repeated bruising over "softer" areas, such as the buttocks, thighs, or stomach, then these warrant further evaluation by a pediatrician.

Your gut tells you that since he cries each time he goes home to his mother he is being maltreated. This is a possibility, but without specific signs or history, your conclusion cannot be substantiated and could easily be wrong. Maybe he enjoys his time with his grandmother and finds it difficult to leave.

If you have concerns that he is a victim of maltreatment, you should report your concerns to the local child protective services. Although you are concerned that your grandson might be placed in foster care if you voice your concerns, you must also take steps necessary to protect him. Child protective services will work to stop any maltreatment should they believe your grandson is in danger, and although their directive is to protect children, they also try to keep families united.

Jonathan Thackeray

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Response by:

Robert Shapiro, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati