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 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 .


Physical abusing an adult is assault someone by:

  • hitting
  • slapping
  • punching
  • kicking
  • hair-pulling
  • biting
  • pushing
  • rough handling
  • scalding and burning
  • shysical punishments
  • inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint
  • making someone purposefully uncomfortable – for example opening a window and removing blankets
  • isolation or confinement
  • misuse of medication – for example over-sedation
  • force feeding or withholding / not giving someone food or drink
  • misuse or illegal use of restraint, restricting movement – for example tying someone to a chair
  • poisoning
  • exposure to heat or cold

What does Physical Abuse look like?

Symptoms and signs can be:

  • 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 or broken bones
  • 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 If you have concerns about a child please report your worries contacting the NELC Children’s Integrated Front Door online  or by calling 01472 326292 Option 2.

The Front Door can also offer information, advice and guidance around early help.

Reporting abuse on adults

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.

Related document

Safeguarding Adults Procedures (PDF, 1MB)