Signs of Physical Abuse
Knowing the signs of physical abuse can help give a voice to a child. Any child can experience physical abuse, but some parents and carers might find it difficult to provide a safe and loving home if they are experiencing financial hardship and poverty, isolation, issues with drugs and alcohol, inadequate housing, mental health issues, relationship issues, domestic abuse, or a lack of support.
All children have bumps, trips, and falls, and not all cuts and bruises mean that a child is being physically abused. If a child has repeated or patterned injuries, this needs to be reported. Other signs of physical abuse include:
- Bruises (particularly indicative of abuse if observed in infants and immobile children)
- Broken or fractured bones, or evidence of old fractures
- Burns or scalds, particularly to the feet or the bottom
- Lacerations to the body or mouth
- Bite marks
- The effects of poisoning (e.g. vomiting, drowsiness, seizures)
- Breathing problems from drowning, suffocation, or poisoning
- Head injuries in babies and toddlers may be signalled by the following symptoms: swelling, bruising, fractures, being extremely sleepy, breathing problems, vomiting seizures, being irritable or not feeding properly
- Seeming frightened of parents, reluctant to return home after school
- Displays frozen watchfulness
- Constantly asking in words/actions what will happen next
- Shrinks away at the approach of adults
If a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police by calling 999.