Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any non-accidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child or youth. 

Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child or youth. Physical discipline, such as spanking or paddling, is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and causes no bodily injury to the child or youth.

Sidewalk chalk

Signs and Behaviors of the Child or Youth

  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver
  • Abuses animals or pets

Signs and Behaviors of Parent or Caretaker

  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child or youth’s injury, or provides an explanation that is not consistent with the injury
  • Describes the child or youth as “evil” or in some other very negative way
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
  • Has a history of abuse as a child or youth
  • Has a history of abusing animals or pets
Child's chalk drawing