Physical abuse is deliberately harming a child and causing injuries.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, indicators and effects

Find out more about the signs, indicators 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.
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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 (DART™)

Helping children and mothers 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

Family SMILES

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

Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

Make a donation

Childline

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.

Read about Childline

Working with schools

We visit schools across the country, helping children understand what abuse is. We also provide professionals with advice, training and resources.
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What you can do

Donate now

Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

Donate now

Call the NSPCC helpline

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors 24/7 for help, advice and support.

Call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Work or volunteer with children and families?

Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.

Go to NSPCC Learning