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January/February 2001Vol. 2, No. 1Body Language of the Abused Child

Rankin, J. A. Rankin File, Springfield, VA. 2000. 276 pp. $30.00. Paperback.

Child victims of abuse are not always capable of relating what has happened to them. Social workers, CPS investigators, and other professionals who provide services to children may try many methods of eliciting a verbal response, but without success. Another way to understand children is by paying attention to what they communicate nonverbally by assessing and interpreting their body language. Children who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect will exhibit behaviors and mannerisms that indicate this trauma to the trained observer. Children may:

  • Appear passive, submissive, and vulnerable or be very aggressive and defiant, or display an alternating combination of the two
  • Present a blank emotionless face with vacant eyes or be constantly on the lookout for possible danger
  • Protect their genitals or rub them for comfort
  • Show signs of self-comforting: rubbing hands or upper arms, stroking the face
  • Flinch when touched or back off from others when approached; need a lot of personal space or none (indiscriminately friendly)

The author provides guidance in all aspects of body language interpretation, from identifying when a child is lying, to understanding the postures and gestures demonstrated by children who have been abused.

To purchase a copy, contact:
Jacqueline A. Rankin
Rankin File
7006 Elkton Dr.
Springfield, VA 22152
Phone: 703-866-0084