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Child physical abuse

Battered child syndrome; Physical abuse - children

Child physical abuse is a serious problem. Here are some facts:

Other types of child abuse are:

Causes

CHILD PHYSICAL ABUSE

Child physical abuse is when a person physically hurts a child. The abuse is not an accident. Here are some examples of child physical abuse:

Symptoms

Signs of physical abuse in a child include:

Other signs include unexplained injuries or a strange explanation of injuries, such as:

Warning signs that an adult may be abusing a child:

Treatment

HELP AN ABUSED CHILD

Learn about the signs of child abuse. Recognize when a child might be abused. Get early help for abused children.

If you think a child is being abused, contact a health care provider, the police, or child protective services in your city, county or state.

GETTING HELP FOR THE CHILD AND FAMILY

The child may need medical treatment and counseling. Abused children can be seriously hurt. Children may also have emotional problems.

Counseling and support groups are available for children and for abusive parents who want to get help.

There are state and other government departments or agencies that are responsible for the protection of children younger than age 18. Child protection agencies usually decide whether the child should go into foster care or can return home. Child protection agencies generally make every effort to reunite families when possible. The system varies from state to state, but usually involves a family court or a court that handles child abuse cases.

Related Information

Child neglect and emotional abuse
Subdural hematoma

References

American Academy of Pediatrics website. Child abuse and neglect. www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/What-to-Know-about-Child-Abuse.aspx. Updated April 13, 2018. Accessed February 3, 2021.

Dubowitz H, Lane WG. Abused and neglected children. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 16.

Raimer SS, Raimer-Goodman L, Raimer BG. Skin signs of abuse. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 90.

US Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau website. Child abuse and neglect. www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/focus-areas/child-abuse-neglect. Updated December 24, 2018. Accessed February 3, 2021.

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Review Date: 10/2/2020  

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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