Child abuse – physical : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : Battered child syndrome, Physical abuse – children

Definition

Physical child abuse or non-accidental child trauma refers to fractures and other signs of injury that occur when a child is hit in anger.

The physical signs of child abuse used to be called battered child syndrome. This syndrome referred to many fractures that occurred at different times in children too young to have received them from an accident. The definition of child abuse has since been expanded.

See also:

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Child psychological abuse and neglect
  • Shaken baby syndrome

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Physical abuse tends to occur at moments of great stress. Many people who commit physical abuse were abused themselves as children. As a result, they often do not realize that abuse is not appropriate discipline.

Often people who commit physical abuse also have poor impulse control. This prevents them from thinking about what happens as a result of their actions.

The rate of child abuse is fairly high. The most common form is neglect.

The major risk factors for child abuse include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse
  • Being a single parent
  • Lack of education
  • Poverty

However, it is important to note that cases of child abuse are found in every racial or ethnic background and social class. It is impossible to tell abusers from non-abusers by looking at their appearance or background.


Review Date : 3/14/2009
Reviewed By : Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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