Battered child syndrome

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
The physical abuse of children is a crime in all 50 states. Teachers, physicians, and other professionals who work with children are legally obligated to report suspected cases of abuse to the proper authority. You can notify your local child protection services agency, or call 9-1-1 to report any suspected case of abuse. Protecting children is also the moral responsibility of relatives, neighbors, and friends, even though they may be hesitant to intrude in another family's private business. Keep in mind that a child's life could be at stake. Adults who abuse children, or who are afraid they might do so, can get help from a variety of sources in the community. A family doctor may be able to refer you. Some indications of physical abuse to look out for include bruises, welts, burns, fractures, and abrasions. The child may claim to have been in an accident, but these injuries may be in an unusual part of the body to have been the result of a common childhood activity. There may be attempts to cover up the physical evidence, such as dressing the child in heavy clothing with long sleeves in warm weather. Some behavioral symptoms a battered child may show could include difficulty in trusting adults or, conversely, seeking affection from any grownup who offers it. Even if the physical abuse doesn't result in death or permanent injury, it could leave a child emotionally scarred for life, so receiving help is of the utmost importance.

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