Physical Abuse

Support those who fall victim of physical abuse


Physical abuse is hurting a child on purpose causing injuries such as burns, cuts, bruises and broken bones. Children who are physically abused suffer from violence such as being hit, kicked, burned, slapped or having items thrown at them. Hitting or shaking a baby could cause a non-accidental head injury.

Parents and carers that physically abuse their children may make up or cause the symptoms of illness in their child by giving them medicine for instance which they don’t need to make the child unwell. When this occurs it is called  Fabricated Illness.

For more information on physical abuse please visit the NSPCC website.


This is the physical ill treatment of an adult, which may or may not cause physical injury.

  • Assault, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, hair-pulling, biting, pushing
  • Rough handling
  • Scalding and burning
  • Physical punishments
  • Inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint
  • Making someone purposefully uncomfortable (e.g. opening a window and removing blankets)
  • Involuntary isolation or confinement
  • Misuse of medication (e.g. over-sedation)
  • Forcible feeding or withholding food
  • not giving adequate food or drink.
  • Misuse or illegal use of restraint, restricting movement (e.g. tying someone to a chair)
  • Poisoning
  • Exposure to heat or cold

What does Physical Abuse look like?

Symptoms and signs can be, but are not limited to:

  • No explanation for injuries or inconsistency with the account of what happened
  • Injuries are inconsistent with the person’s lifestyle
  • Bruising, cuts, welts, burns and/or marks on the body or loss of hair in clumps
  • Frequent injuries
  • Unexplained falls
  • Subdued or changed behaviour in the presence of a particular person
  • Signs of malnutrition
  • Failure to seek medical treatment or frequent changes of GP
  • Fractures
  • Burns
  • Bed sores
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Assault (can be intentional or reckless)

Reporting a concern about a child

If you have concerns about a child please report your worries via the online form or by contacting the NELC Children’s Integrated Front Door 01472 326292 Option 2.   The Front Door  can also offer information, advice and guidance around early help.

Reporting Physical Abuse

Anyone that suspects another professional or adult of abuse or neglect has a duty to refer it to the relevant employer or safeguarding agency to be investigated.  If you need to raise a Safeguarding Adults concern, please call 01472 256 256. This number is available 24 hours a day,365 days a year.


More information