What are the risk factors for physical child abuse?

Updated: Apr 24, 2017
  • Author: Angelo P Giardino, MD, MPH, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Answer

No one single cause has been identified that explains the occurrence of all cases of physical abuse. The multifactorial nature of physical abuse requires a more comprehensive amalgam of models and conceptual frameworks to account for the heterogeneous set of cases classified as physical abuse.

Circumstances that may give rise to the occurrence of a child's injury via physically abusive actions have been organized into a typology having the following 5 subtypes:

  • Caregiver's angry and uncontrolled disciplinary response to actual or perceived misconduct of the child

  • Caregiver's psychological impairment, which causes resentment and rejection of the child by the caregiver and a perception of the child as different and provocative

  • Child left in care of a babysitter who is abusive

  • Caregiver's use of substances that disinhibit behavior

  • Caregiver's entanglement in a domestic violence situation

This typology describes commonly observed circumstances that may result in nonaccidental injury to children; however, it does not shed light on why the circumstance leads to a child's injury.


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