Medical Definition of Physical child abuse

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Physical child abuse: Next to child neglect, physical abuse is the second most frequently reported form of child abuse, accounting for 25% of all cases of child abuse.

Physical child abuse is physical injury inflicted upon the child with cruel and/or malicious intent. Physical abuse can be the result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, shaking, or otherwise harming a child physically.

The parent or caretaker who abused the child may not have intended to hurt the child, but rather the child's injury may have resulted from overly harsh discipline or physical punishment. There is, in this regard, a substantial debate going on about certain forms physical discipline such as spanking and slapping and their relationship to more orthodox forms of physical abuse.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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