Common Indicators of Physical Abuse

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Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the child:

  • Unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes.
  • Fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school.
  • Frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home.
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults.
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver.

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury.
  • Describes the child as "evil," or in some other very negative way.
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child.
  • Has a history of abuse as a child.

Author: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (DHHS)