Active with social worker associations in California and Washington State, Marla Harding has experience investigating child neglect and abuse cases, and finding suitable homes for children. One area in which Marla Harding has extensive experience involves differentiating between the signs of sexual and physical abuse.
As described by the Mayo Clinic, signs of abuse often reveal themselves indirectly, as the child may be afraid to open up about the situation to outsiders, particularly if the abuser is a relative or friend of the family. Red flags include an increase in disruptive behaviors, from hyperactivity to aggression, as well as an abrupt loss of confidence. Social withdrawal may take place in tandem with physical symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches that seem to lack a medical cause.
Sexual abuse in particular may involve knowledge of sex, or sexualized behavior, that is not appropriate for the individual’s age. In cases where any type of abuse is suspected, it is critical to inform state and county authorities that are in positions to provide medical and psychological assistance. As appropriate, case workers will be assigned to ensure that the child is in a safe, caring home situation.