Child physical abuse is defined by WHO as that which results in actual or potentialharm. Various forms of child abuse are common in all societies. 25-50 % of the world’s children report being physically abused. 80-98 % suffer physical punishment in their homes with about 1/3 rd getting severe punishment with objects like sticks, rods, rulers, etc.In our country physical punishment as a disciplinary measure is widely accepted. Corporal punishment at schools, although legally banned, still continues. Most physicians in India, and other, developing countries, are very busy carrying out curative and preventive work and rarely suspect wilful injury to the child. It is, however, important to detect such acts as they are very often repeated causing serious physical and emotional trauma to the child.
A careful history from the child or the caregiver about how the injury happened may arouse suspicion if changing or inconsistent accounts are given or when insufficient to explain the form and extent of the injury. A thorough physical examination is done removing all clothing as suspicious injuries may be hidden.Bruises, burns and fractures are carefully examined and evaluated. Radiological examinations may be required and appropriate referrals made if head injury or internal organ damage is suspected.
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