Child Maltreatment - Physical Abuse

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Physical abuse of a child occurs when someone knowingly harms or places a child in danger. Physical abuse includes punching, beating, kicking, hitting, biting, shaking, throwing, choking, burning, and force-feeding. It may also include disciplining a child with physical punishment that is too much for his age or condition. Harmful force or restraints may also be considered physical abuse.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Medicine may be needed to decrease the child's pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give him more pain medicine.

  • Give the child's medicine as directed. Contact the child's primary healthcare provider (PHP) if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if the child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs the child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry the child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years old. The child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check the child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with the child's PHP as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during the child's visits.

Injury or wound care:

If the child has injuries, ask for information about how to take care of them.

Ice and heat:

  • Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on the child's injury for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.

  • After the first 24 to 48 hours, the child's PHP may have you use heat. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.

Care for a child victim of physical abuse:

  • Let the child rest if he needs to. Tell the child's PHP if the child has trouble sleeping.

  • Report physical abuse. It may be hard to report physical abuse in children, but it is very important. Caregivers can help the child if he is at risk for or is a victim of physical abuse. Caregivers are required by law to report physical abuse. The child may need to leave his current living situation and be placed in foster care to protect him from the abuse.

  • Take the child for counseling. Physical abuse may cause the child to feel scared, depressed, or anxious. The child's PHP may suggest that he see a counselor to talk about how he feels.

Contact the child's PHP if:

  • The child has new signs and symptoms since his last visit.

  • You have questions or concerns about the child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • The child feels like hurting himself or someone else.

  • The child feels that he cannot cope with the abuse, or his recovery from it.

  • The child has trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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