Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
It isn’t accidental - children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, kicked, poisoned, burned, slapped or having objects thrown at them.
Shaking or hitting babies can cause non-accidental head injuries (NAHI). Sometimes parents or carers will make up or cause the symptoms of illness in their child, perhaps giving them medicine they don’t need and making the child unwell – this is known as fabricated or induced illness (FII).
There’s no excuse for physically abusing a child. It causes serious, and often long-lasting, harm – and in severe cases, death.
Developing healthy brains
Every child needs loving, nurturing care from the adults around them if they are to develop the healthy brains they need to be able to thrive and this is even more important in the first few years of life. The toxic stress that abuse causes means that a child's healthy brain development can be impaired.
The good news is our brains aren't fully formed until around the age of 25, so there are opportunities to help young people develop the skills they need and to overcome the impact of earlier toxic stress.
Watch this short film to find out more about the impact toxic stress can have on a child’s healthy brain development