Welcome To Swain County

Social Services

Indicators of Child Maltreatment

Physical Abuse

Physical indicators: unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing); welts; human bite marks; bald spots; unexplained burns, especially cigarette burns or scalding of the hands or feet; unexplained fractures, lacerations, or abrasions

Behavioral Indicators: self –destructive; withdrawn or aggressive extremes of behavior; uncomfortable with physical contact; arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to be at home; chronic runaway (adolescents); complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably; wears clothing inappropriately to the weather and designed to conceal injuries


Physical Indicators: abandonment; unattended medical needs; consistent lack of supervision; consistent hunger’ inappropriate dress, emaciated.

Behavioral Indicators: regularly displays fatigue or listlessness; falls asleep in class; steals food; begs from classmates; reports that no caretaker is at home; frequently absent or tardy; self-destructive; school drop-out (adolescents)


Sexual Abuse

Physical Indicators: torn, stained, or bloody underclothing; pain or itching in genital area, difficulty walking or sitting; bruises or bleeding in external genitalia; venereal disease, frequent urinary or yeast infections.

Behavioral Indicators: withdrawal; chronic depression; excessive seductiveness; role reversal; overly concerned for siblings; poor self-esteem; self devaluation; lack of confidence; peer problems; lack of involvement; extreme weight change; suicide attempts; hysteria; lack of emotional control; sudden school difficulties; inappropriate sex play or premature understanding of sex; threatened by physical contact. 


Emotional Abuse

Physical Indicators: speech disorders; delayed physical development; substance abuse; ulcers; asthma; severe allergies.

Behavioral Indicators: habit disorders (sucking, rocking); anti-social, destructive, neurotic traits (sleep disorders, inhibition of play); passive and aggressive extremes of behavior; delinquent behavior (especially adolescents); developmental delays.



  • The signs listed above are POSSIBLE indicators of child maltreatment.  When these signs appear repeatedly or in combination, we should consider the possibility of child maltreatment.  The presence of one or more of the indicators doesn’t to necessarily prove that a child is being abused or neglected.

  • All NC citizens are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

  • When in doubt, err on the safety of the child, call DSS at 488-6921 to make a report. 


Department of Social Services
80 Academy Street
Bryson City, NC 28713

Mailing Address
PO Box 610
Bryson City, NC 28713


Sheila Sutton, Director
Phone 828-488-6921
Fax 828-488-8271

Office Hours