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Physical Child Abuse

Physical Child Abuse

No child should have to suffer from physical abuse, but many of them endure this reality every day. The National Children’s Alliance estimates that 3.8 million children received preventative services from Child Protective Services agencies in the U.S. in 2012. Of that 3.8 million, approximately 55,246 of the cases were physical child abuse. Tragically, 1,646 children died in 2012 alone from neglect or abuse.

Physical abuse in children can consist of shaking, punching, stabbing, throwing, hitting, beating, burning, or biting a child. Sadly, the abuser is most often one of the people you have entrusted to care for your child.

No parent should have to live in constant fear for their child’s well-being. However, all parents should be aware of the signs their child may exhibit if he or she has been physically abused. These signs may include both emotional and physical changes.


  • Broken bones that are unusual and unexplained
  • Bruise marks shaped like hands, fingers, or objects (such as a belt)
  • Bruises in areas where normal childhood activities would not usually result in bruising
  • Burn (scalding) marks, seen when a child is placed in hot water as a punishment — particularly “glove” or “sock” burn patterns
  • Burns from an electric stove, radiator, heater or other hot objects, usually seen on the child’s hands, arms or buttocks
  • Cigarette burns on exposed areas
  • Black eyes in an infant or a similar, unexplained injury in a child
  • Human bite marks
  • Lash marks
  • Choke marks around neck
  • Circular marks around wrists or ankles (indicating twisting or tying up)
  • Evidence of unexplained abdominal injury (such as bruised or ruptured intestines due to punching)
  • Unexplained unconsciousness in infant
  • Changes in personality
  • Unwillingness to engage in physical interaction with other people
  • A more timid approach to others
  • Exhibiting fear of certain adults
  • Plays very aggressively with other children

A child who shows any of the above signs may be suffering from physical abuse. If you believe your child has been physically abused, seek help immediately.



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