Physical abuse

Physical abuse of a child often results in non-accidental injuries such as bruises, cuts, burns and broken bones as a consequence of being deliberately harmed by another person. This can include acts such as slapping, kicking and sustained shaking, but can also be a result of being intentionally harmed by being given toxic or poisonous substances.

Bumps and bruising don’t necessarily mean a child is being physically abused, however there are other indicators to look out for, such as how frequently this happens, whether there a pattern to the injuries and how likely the explanation of how the child was hurt seems.

Possible signs that a child is being physically abused include them undergoing personality changes like becoming withdrawn, angry, clingy or seeming insecure; developing sleeping problems or regressive behaviours like bed-wetting; and having unreasonable fears about places or people.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999 straight away.

However, it can be very difficult to know what to do if you are unsure, especially if you are not certain that a child is being physically abused. Parentline call-takers can help talk through your concerns and decide on an appropriate course of action to ensure the child you are worried about stays safe.

Contact Parentline