Physical abuse is generally defined as any nonaccidental physical injury to the child and can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child. On this webpage, explore findings and research about characteristics of people who physically abuse children.
Child Physical Abuse Prevention
Prevent Child Abuse America
Describes child physical abuse as an act, failure to act, or circumstance that leads to harm or significant risk that a child will be harmed. The webpage discusses types of injuries, how physical abuse can be identified, States’ definitions of physical abuse, how perpetrators of abuse are defined, and more.
The Dark Side of Social Support: Understanding the Role of Social Support, Drinking Behaviors and Alcohol Outlets for Child Physical Abuse
Freisthler, Holmes, & Wolf (2014)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(6)
Examines whether parental drinking behavior, drinking locations, alcohol outlet density, and types of social support are related to the risk of child physical abuse.
How to Help Perpetrators of Child Physical Abuse
Reviews interventions to help families experiencing child physical abuse and explains how parents who physically abuse children may have the inability to control and express anger, face social isolation, or lack parenting knowledge and skills.
Maternal Social Information Processing and the Frequency and Severity of Mother-Perpetrated Physical Abuse
Azar, Miller, McGuier, Stevenson, O'Donnell, Olsen, & Spence (2016)
Child Maltreatment, 21(4)
Examines characteristics of mothers that could be associated with both the severity and frequency of child physical abuse. Findings showed that poorer problem-solving was associated with increased frequency in physical abuse against children and that mothers' hostile attributions for children's behavior were associated with the severity and frequency of physical abuse.
Physical Child Abuse Potential in Adolescent Girls: Associations With Psychopathology, Maltreatment, and Attitudes Toward Child-Bearing (PDF - 518 KB)
Pajer, Gardner, Lourie, Chang, Wang, & Currie (2014)
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 59(2)
Examines whether exposure to maltreatment, level of preparedness for child-bearing, substance use disorders, IQ, race, and socioeconomic status were associated with the potential for child abuse in adolescent girls. The article provides clinical implications for practice.
Three Parent Factors That Heighten the Prevalence of Childhood Physical Abuse
Science Daily (2019)
Describes three parental factors that contribute to a heightened risk for childhood physical abuse: addiction, intimate partner violence, and mental illness. Individuals growing up with parents with these characteristics are more than 30 times more likely to have been victims of childhood physical abuse.
Understanding the Causes of Child Abuse
Describes factors that increase someone's likelihood of abusing a child, including a history of experiencing abuse as a child, substance use, mental health conditions, socioeconomic stress, lack of parenting skills, lack of understanding of childhood development, stress, and others.
What Is the Link Between Corporal Punishment and Child Physical Abuse?
Fréchette, Zoratti, & Romano (2015)
Journal of Family Violence, 30(2)
Examines the link between spanking and child physical abuse. The article explores the extent to which individuals who experienced spanking in childhood were at greater risk of also experiencing physical abuse by their parents.
Who Perpetrates Violence Against Children? A Systematic Analysis of Age-Specific and Sex-Specific Data
Devries, Knight, Petzold, Merrill, Maxwell, Williams, Cappa, et al. (2017)
BMJ Paediatrics Open, 2(1)
Examines data from 171 countries about people who engage in physical and emotional violence. Findings showed the two most common perpetrators are household members and student peers.