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Physical abuse

This is when someone physically hurts or harms a child.

Hitting, squeezing, biting, or twisting a child's arms or legs can cause injuries like bruises, grazes, cuts or broken bones. Sometimes someone burns a child, perhaps by holding a part of their body against something very hot, by scalding, or by using something such as a cigarette.

Violently shaking a baby can cause brain injuries, which can lead to permanent disability or even death. Poisoning a child, perhaps by giving them alcohol or drugs and deliberately making them ill, is also physical abuse.

Warning signs

  • Any injuries at all to young babies who are not yet able to move on their own
  • Bruises in places where you would not normally expect to find them on a child
  • Bruises which have a distinctive shape or pattern, like handprints, grasp or finger marks, or belt marks
  • Burns or scalds with clear outlines
  • Bite marks and bruises like 'love bites'
  • Bruising in or around the mouth, especially in babies

If you suspect physical abuse, report it