Physical abuse is when a child is deliberately hurt or injured by another person.
Physical abuse can be a one-off severe incident or may happen repeatedly. Sometimes there can be obvious signs of physical abuse but sometimes it can be hidden. You might see someone hitting, kicking, shaking or otherwise assaulting a child or you may see a child with unexplained injuries such as bruising, burns or bite marks.A child may tell you that they have been hurt or injured or appear afraid to go home.
All children can injure themselves accidentally, especially young children, but if you already have concerns about a child, a new injury might mean they need help. For example, you might notice that a child has an obvious injury such as a limp or a sore arm which they deny or that they try to explain in a way which doesn’t seem to make sense. Equally, you may not have had previous concerns about a child but if the nature of an injury or a series of minor injuries has caused you to be concerned, you should seek help.
Physical abuse of children is never acceptable for any reason.
If you are concerned about a child or young person, it’s always better to say something than do nothing – see our Get Help section for sources of help and advice.