Common Symptoms of Physically Abused Children

Physical Abuse

Children exhibiting any of the following symptoms may be victims of physical abuse. In some cases, children may have symptoms or conditions that are not abuse related. Accurate assessment and investigation are required to determine when children are being physically abused. Reporting concerns of child physical abuse to appropriate agencies will initiate investigation by the relevant professionals to make such determinations.


  • Unexplained burns, especially cigarette burns or immersion burns
  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing)
  • Unexplained  injuries such as fractures, lacerations or abrasions
  • Swollen areas
  • Evidence of delayed or inappropriate treatment for injuries
  • Self destructive behaviors
  • Withdrawn and/or aggressive – behavioral extremes
  • Arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to be at home
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents)
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably
  • Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body
  • Bizarre explanation of injuries
  • Wary of adult contact

Child protection workers receive specialized training to investigate and make determinations of child maltreatment. If you observe children that you suspect are or have been neglected or abused, make a report to the appropriate humans services department or law enforcement.