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Florida Family Law: Recognizing Signs of Physical Abuse in a Child


Physical abuse involving a child involves any “non-accidental” physical act by someone having care of the child. There is not always an intent to physically hurt a child, and some people may justify their behavior by claiming it to be a form of discipline. However, if the physical act is based on fear or involves lashing out in anger, it is physical abuse. Physical abuse is one of the most common types of child abuse, and it’s typically accompanied by other types of abuse, like neglect and/or emotional abuse. If a caregiver or parent makes up a fake illness, it can also be deemed physical abuse.

Sometimes, physical abuse is not only from a parent or caregiver, but a teacher. In many cases, parents and teachers are unaware their behavior could be criminal and could harm a child mentally in the long run. Unfortunately, there are plenty of situations where a parent or caregiver is knowingly intending to harm the child.

Potential Warning Signs of Physical Child Abuse

There are potential signs you can look out for with physical abuse, as visible marks are often seen on the child, including cuts, bruises, bite marks, broken bones, welts, and/or burns that resemble an object shape. A child who doesn’t want to go home after school may be trying to avoid an abusive parent. Some children develop an irrational fear of adults or become extremely withdrawn. A child’s attire may point to abuse as well. There may be a reason why a child is dressed in long sleeves on the hottest summer day.

Injuries that Constitute Physical Abuse

There are a number of different injuries that can fall under physical abuse. These include:

  • Head injuries
  • Poisoning
  • Internal injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Sprain/dislocation
  • Stab or gunshot wounds
  • Asphyxiation
  • Shaken baby syndrome

In addition to these injuries, there is something called Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This is where a parent or caregiver repeatedly takes a child to the hospital for treatment of what appears to be an acute illness. This gives a documented medical history, but there is no injury. Some parents may go so far as to falsify the child’s medical history or alter lab results that “prove” the child has some sort of illness where he or she needs access to medical care.

Exposing a child to the sale or manufacture of certain classes of drugs can also be deemed physical abuse. While the sale of drugs can put a child’s safety at risk, the manufacture of drugs could have even more serious repercussions, including harmful exposure to toxins.

Retaining a Florida Family Law Attorney

Understanding the long-term consequences of child abuse is important. If you are a parent who has been accused of child abuse, or you suspect your spouse is abusing your child, it is imperative to speak with a skilled Florida family law attorney. The Law Offices of Schwartz | White are well-versed in handling family matters that involve child abuse. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.

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