Suspicions of Abuse

Dear Mr. Dad: A young family recently moved in next door. There’s always a lot of yelling and door slamming and I’ve noticed that the boy who lives there, who looks about 10, often has bruises on his face, arms, and legs. Whenever I see him, he seems afraid to make eye contact. I don’t want to rush to judgment and accuse the parents of abuse, but I also don’t want to turn a blind eye in case I’m right. What should I do?

A: Thank you for speaking up and for your concern—you’ve just identified several classic warning signs of abuse. You’ve also stumbled into a very tough, very complex situation (one that I’m sure will generate angry emails from readers no matter how I answer the question).
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