For Families and Patients

Signs and symptoms of physical abuse

There are many signs and symptoms of physical abuse. The most common are bruises, bites, burns, and fractures. More severe signs are abdominal trauma and Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Signs of physical abuse include:

Bruises not on the common bony areas of the shins, knees, or elbows.

Bruises that have a pattern, such as a hand print.

Large bite marks.

Unusual burns or burns on unusual places.

Fractures inconsistent with a child’s development or accidents.

Severe head or abdominal injuries.

Injuries consistent with a history of abuse.

Family Focus is a series of positive parenting tips and information sheets developed by specialists at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. For a complete list of topics, visit our Web site:, and click on “For Families and Patients” then “Positive Parenting.”


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