More about:

Warning signs of child abuse & neglect

Warning signs of child abuse

Signs of physical abuse

  • Bruising, welts or burns that cannot be sufficiently explained, particularly bruises on the face, lips and mouth of infants or on several surface planes at the same time
  • Unusual bruising patterns that reflect the shape of the instrument used to cause injury (e.g., belt, wire hanger, hairbrush, hand, human bite marks)
  • Clusters of bruises, welts or burns, indicating repeated contact with a hand or instrument
  • Injuries on the body where children usually do not get hurt (e.g., the torso, back, buttocks, thighs, neck)
  • Burns that are insufficiently explained, e.g., cigarette burns or:
    • Immersion burns; marks indicating dunking in a hot liquid, including “stocking” and “glove” burns on feet and hands, or “doughnut” shaped burns on buttocks and genitalia
    • Rope or restraint burns on the arms, hands, neck or legs
    • Dry burns caused by forced contact with a hot surface (e.g., a clothes iron, hair curler, heater or stove)
  • Lacerations and abrasions of the lip, eye, or to any part of a child’s face
  • Tears in the tissue of the gums, possibly as a result of force-feeding
  • Laceration or abrasion to external genitalia
  • Absence of hair or hemorrhaging beneath the scalp due to vigorous hair pulling
  • Withdrawn, fearful or extreme behavior


Did you find the information you were looking for on this page? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
Tell us what you think