Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.

It isn’t accidental - children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, kicked, poisoned, burned, slapped or having objects thrown at them. Shaking or hitting babies can cause non-accidental head injuries (NAHI). Sometimes parents or carers will make up or cause the symptoms of illness in their child, perhaps giving them medicine they don’t need and making the child unwell – this is known as fabricated or induced illness (FII).

There’s no excuse for physically abusing a child. It causes serious, and often long-lasting, harm – and in severe cases, death.

Read more about physical abuse

Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Help and advice

Signs, symptoms and effects

Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of physical abuse and non-accidental head injuries.
Spotting signs of physical abuse

Keeping children safe

How to help keep children safe from physical abuse
Keeping children safe from physical abuse

Research and resources

Research, reports and resources about physical abuse
See research and resources for physical abuse

Children's stories

"My sister's relationship with my mum was better than mine. She would get yelled at and hit, but it was me who bore the brunt of mum's anger."

Read Pete's story

Non-recent abuse

The effects of non-recent abuse and support for adults abused as children.
Read more

What we do about physical abuse

Caring Dads: Safer Children

Helping fathers see the impact their violent behaviour has on their children and how they can make positive changes for the future.
Caring Dads: Safer Children service

Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together

Helping mums and children strengthen their relationship after domestic abuse.
DART - Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together service

Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP)

Protecting children living with adult drug and alcohol misuse.
FEDUP - Family Environment: Drug Using Parents service


Support and life skills for children who live with mums or dads with mental health difficulties.
Family SMILES service

Parents Under Pressure™

Improving parenting in families with drug or alcohol issues.
Parents Under Pressure™ service

Donate now

Our services are helping turn lives around. Your gift can help rebuild lives, and prevent abuse from ruining any more.

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Get expert training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.
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Specialist and bespoke child protection courses

Training on specialist child protection subjects and courses tailored to your staff's needs.
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Child protection consultancy service

Tailored safeguarding and child protection support for any organisation.
Our consultancy service


ChildLine is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, ChildLine is there for them – by phone, email or live chat.

0800 1111

Contact ChildLine

NSPCC Schools Service

We visit 9-11 year olds in schools across the country, helping them to understand what abuse is and giving them the confidence to speak out and seek help if they ever need it.
More about our Schools Service

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When a child is free from abuse, they’re free to dream again. Your donation can take a child anywhere.

Watch Alfie's story