Concerns for Physical Abuse

Concerns for physical abuse exist when a caregiver uses physical force on a child such that injury to the child occurs or could occur. Examples of physical abuse may include:

  • Bruises
  • Welts
  • Cuts
  • Abrasions
  • Fractures
  • Burns/scalds
  • Contusions
  • Loss of teeth
  • Bloodied nose
  • Sprains
  • Brain or neurological damage
  • Death
  • Subdural hemorrhage
  • Internal injuries
  • Poisoning
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Physical punishment of an infant
  • Shaking infant or preschooler
  • Striking children with an object when any of the following occur: The child is struck some place other than the buttocks; A bruise or injury results; The number of strikes is more than one or two; Done frequently; or Used on preschoolers.
  • Striking children on or about the head and face
  • Striking children with a closed hand
  • Throwing children in such a manner that there is risk of injury
  • Kicking a child
  • Biting a child
  • Forcing a child to ingest a noxious substance, i.e. tobacco, alcohol, soap, pepper, Tabasco sauce, etc.
  • Forced feeding

There may be concerns for a child’s safety when a child:

  • Has an unexplained injury
  • Has serious injury requiring medical attention or hospitalization
  • Has a sibling who was abused which resulted in injury, death, or dysfunction
  • Experiences heightened the level of pain or injury; e.g., cigarette burns, an instrument is used
  • Parent’s motivation to teach or discipline seems secondary to inflicting pain and/or injury
  • Parent has no remorse
  • Parent does not acknowledge any guilt or wrong doing and they intended to hurt the child
  • Parent shows no empathy for the pain or trauma the child has experience and they intended to hurt the child
  • History and circumstantial information are incongruent with the parent’s explanation about injuries and conditions
  • Parent’s verbal expressions do not match their emotional response and there is not a believable explanation
  • Parent’s regrets are unbelievable, self serving, or associated more with getting caught than what was done
  • Parent shows no recognition of wrong or inappropriate behavior, or demonstrates a self-righteous attitude and believes actions were justified
  • Parents view their abusive behavior as a parental right
  • Parent’s explanations for serious maltreatment are inconsistent or change over time