Physical Abuse: Common Injuries in Children - Topic Overview
Certain types of injuries are common to physical abuse.
Bruises. Bruising is the
most common sign of physical abuse and can result from being slapped, punched,
bitten, or hit with a belt, cord, or switch. Suspect physical abuse if a child
has bruising in unusual places. Bruises on the buttocks, genitals, back, sides
of the body, both sides of the face or head, or on the upper surface of the
hands or feet are unlikely to have been caused accidentally. The pattern of a
bruise mark may suggest the object used to injure the child.
Burns. Intentional burns often have recognizable patterns. For
example, scalding burns (which occur when a child is immersed in hot water)
produce a distinct line where the burn meets undamaged skin. If a child's hands
or feet were placed in hot water, the resulting burn may look as if he or she
is wearing a glove or sock. Cigarette burns often occur in groups, are circular
and the same size as the end of a cigarette, and are in places that do not seem
likely to be accidental.
fractures are caused by twisting or pulling an arm or leg, or shaking a child
so hard that the arms or legs flail about, causing traction on the end of the
long bones. Punching or kicking a child may cause fractures of the ribs,
scapula, or sternum.
Head injuries. Most
abuse deaths are caused by injuries to the brain. Shaking or hitting a child's
head or face is always dangerous. Young children cannot control the movement of
their head as well as adults can. Shaken baby syndrome (shaken baby–impact
syndrome) is brain damage caused when a baby is shaken, slammed, or thrown
against an object.