Child Physical abuse is the second most common form of child mistreatment. It is defined broadly as, any intentional physical act by a caregiver that results in a child being hurt or injured. Many times it is a result of excessive discipline.
Child Physical Abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.
There are many factors that contribute, such as parent’s immaturity or lack of parenting skills, substance abuse including alcohol, domestic violence, etc.
If you suspect physical abuse you may consider some common indicators:
Physical Indicators in the Child
- Any injury in an infant, even a small bruise
- Injuries to the back, buttocks, ears, face (particularly the soft tissues of the cheek), neck, and genitalia
- Unexplained injuries, or injuries with improbable explanations
- Bruises or burns that are patterned or have a distinctive outline
- Broken bones, lacerations or unexplained bruises
- Burns (cigarette, scalding water, iron)
- Any injury when there is a delay in seeking appropriate medical care
Behavioral Indicators in the Child
With regard to behavioral indicators, keep in mind that children react differently to being abused. Many abused children do not exhibit behavioral symptoms, and therefore are difficult to detect. The presence of any of the following indicators does not prove that a child is being abused but should serve as a warning signal to look further. While some of these behaviors may occur more with one type of abuse than another, they may overlap.
- Hostile, aggressive or verbally abusive towards others
- Fearful or withdrawn behavior
- Destructiveness (breaks windows, sets fires, etc.)
- Out-of-control behavior/poor anger management
- Wariness of adults
- Discomfort when other children cry
- Fear of parents/caretakers or of going home
Child Physical abuse can leave a child scarred for life, both physically and emotionally. The main thing is for these children to know that they are not at fault and they are not alone.
If you suspect a child may have been physically abused it is important to contact the authorities and report it. California law provides criminal prosecution for neglect. It also allows victims to file civil suit and obtain damages for pain and suffering.
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