What Are the Signs of Physical Child Abuse?

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  • Written By: Kaiser Castro
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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Bruises, broken bones, scars, or burns without valid explanations are hallmarks for physical child abuse. Unusual marks that eventually form odd-looking bruises on the skin are often indications of abuse. Abused children tend to hide wounds by wearing obtrusive clothes that they are reluctant to take off. If bodily damage is noted by a guardian, or teacher, then the proper authorities should be contacted immediately.

If a belt is used, there might be pink welts that are longer than they are wide. There may additionally be bruising within the area. The sizes of the welts are determined by the size of the belt, and the amount of force used. Abusers will generally strike the buttocks or limbs, facilitating excessive bruising.

Abusers may also use fists, which can create round bruises with a relatively dark center. People who physically abuse kids may use closed fists to deliver blows to the face, head, and chest. Hallmarks of head damage are black-and-blue eyes, swollen lips, and damaged skin.

Regardless of the medium of abuse used, the child may have a deteriorating appearance about them. Emotional damage usually accompanies physical child abuse, sometimes manifesting itself in the way the child communicates with the world. Defensive body language for no apparent reason or being socially detached among peers can manifest itself as a byproduct of physical child abuse.


Young children, who may not be capable to clearly communicate pain, are at risk of being abused. Toddlers are particularly susceptible to forehead bruising, as they continuously stumble into things. and regular bruising can occur on the knees, elbows, and the forehead. The scale of the bruise and the frequency wherein bruising happens can flip even normal bruising into suspicious bruising. Bruising which may be noted as suspicious may be discovered on the chest and the genitalia, as these areas aren't normally damaged by regular day-to-day play. Obvious injury and damage in these areas can potentially mean that they have been created with intention.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a common reason for the loss of life among infants who are physically abused. The syndrome is brought on by excessive shaking of a child, creating a whiplash motion. The most typical symptom of SBS is excessive crying, accompanied by feeding issues and difficulties with bathroom training. Depending on the force used and the size of the child, the indicators of physical child abuse are retinal damage, tremors, bruising of the neck, vomiting, and seizures.


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