Physical Child Abuse: Preventing and Help


Physical child abuse involves a kind of child abuse where a grown-up or older teen takes advantage of the innocence of a child and harms him/her physically and in most instances even psychologically. The different kinds of child physical abuse entail excessive corporal punishment, beating a child excessively for no good reason, and might also include sexual abuse (that is, requesting or forcing a child to engage in sexual endeavors).

The perpetrator of child physical abuse usually does it with the aim of correcting the child’s behavior, satisfying their sexual craving, threatening, or using children for child pornography to mention a few. Physical child abuse influences the growth and development of children negatively hence necessitates the establishment of effective ways of preventing its occurrence and the means of helping the victims.


The majority of the perpetrators of physical child abuse are well-known to the children; approximately thirty percent are members of the family, mainly mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, or aunts. About sixty percent of physical child abuse perpetrators are people strongly associated with the children, for example, a babysitter, neighbor, or family friend while strangers constitute roughly ten percent of the occurrences.

While women are associated strongly with excessive corporal punishment, males are mostly linked to child sexual abuse (Janssen, Van Dijk, Al Malki, & Van As, 2013). Physical child abuse could arise in a range of surroundings, encompassing the institutions of learning, home, and place of work (such as workplaces where child labor happens). Excessive corporal punishment, sexual abuse, and child labor denote the major kinds of physical abuse against children.

The effects of physical abuse upon children could entail pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, the tendency of continued victimization later in life, and injuries. When it occurs as sexual abuse upon a child by a family member, it signifies incest and usually leads to extensive and lasting psychological distress, mainly if carried out by a parent.

For the children who have once or severely experienced physical abuse, its influence on their immediate and later lives may be devastating. Over and above the physical injury sustained, such children might feel overwhelming distress and show a broad scope of psychological problems, either instant or lasting (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). They may, for example, feel vulnerable, ashamed, and suspicious of older people.

Physical abuse interferes with the child’s normal development and worsens the fear that they will undergo other such instances in the future. For some time, the victim may express regressive conducts, for example, bed-wetting (for young children), sleep problems, eating disorders, behavioral and performance concerns at school, and unwillingness to take part in social activities. The long-term impact may be far-reaching, including nervousness-linked, self-destructive approaches, for example, drug abuse, alcoholism, sleeplessness, and anxiety attacks amid others.

Children who have experienced physical abuse may articulate fear when interconnecting with individuals who share the same feature as the perpetrator, for instance, similar sex with the abuser or alike physical qualities. Moreover, in his/her adulthood, such a child could experience problems in intimate relationships and/or sexual performance.

An apparent, lasting negative impact of physical child abuse can result in further suffering in adolescent years and later life. Such people normally demonstrate excessive behavioral setbacks, psychological challenges, and problems relating to their peers (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). An associative link has been established between sexual abuse upon children and several psychopathologies in middle age such as suicide and criminal offenses, in addition to substance abuse and alcoholism (Goldman, 2014). Most men and women who encountered sexual abuse in their early life are more frequently serving their jail term for engagement in crime than being in mental health facilities.

Studies have established that between 50% and 80% of sexually abused children demonstrate psychological disorders. The magnitude of the effect is higher when the perpetrator is a family member if the act entailed injuries caused by physical, sexual contact that led to hospitalization, and when threats and coercion are employed (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). Numerous aspects such as penetration, time, age, the frequency of abuse, and application of force might also sway the extent of harm (Southall & MacDonald, 2013). The social disgrace of physical child abuse, particularly sexual violence, upon children might worsen the psychological effects and could lead to lasting negative impacts where there is no supportive family setting.

The main effect of physical child abuse is the resultant injury. Reliant on the age and body size of the child, sexual abuse upon very young girls may lead to internal tears and excessive loss of blood. In worse instances, injuries to the internal body organs might result in death. Ridings, Beasley, and Silovsky (2017) affirmed that there are approximately six confirmed and six probable occurrences of death that emanate from physical child abuse in the United States every year.

The majority of children who die from the severe impacts of physical abuse are from two to ten years of age (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). The major causes of death in physical child abuse are the pain on the rectum or genitalia and sexual disfigurement in case of sexual abuse, and deep cuts or severe burns. In some instances, sexual abuse upon children may result in lasting infections such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Child sexual abuse might lead to neurological injury. Furthermore, research has shown that extreme distress, including the stress caused by the experience itself, leads to noteworthy changes in brain operations and development (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). A wide pool of studies shows that sexual abuse upon children may result in the overexcitation of an undeveloped limbic structure. The effect of neurological damage is similar in both boys and girls who are sexually abused (Tishelman & Fontes, 2017). Research has also established a strong relationship involving the short-term loss of memory for children who have suffered extreme physical abuse, for instance, in cases of severely injurious sexual abuse.

Although experiences of physical child abuse have neurobiological effects at all ages, it is in particular critical for children below ten years because it can sway the development of their lives negatively. The brain develops during growth via genetic stances and encounters in life (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). Although traumatic occurrences may lead to sensitization in the victims’ brains, in unbearable instances they sway the functioning ability negatively in the course of growth and development (Tucker & Rodriguez, 2014).

When judged against their peers, children who have for a long time suffered trauma as a result of physical abuse attain lower success and are easily frightened. In this regard, even in cases where such children are not experiencing trauma any longer, the distress reaction segment in their brain is persistently activated.

Due to the fact that the brain has a vital task in many other operations within a person’s life, its function can be easily controlled and attuned, with the consequential action of motor hyperactivity, in addition to uneasiness (Goldman, 2014). These circumstances are revealed in the fact that victims of physical child abuse are easily enraged, exist in a situation of enduring fear, mistrust other people, mainly after encounters of sexual abuse, and unduly react to common stressing factors.

Studies assert that variations in the tasks of the brain may control the impact of trauma by influencing the response to arising shock through swaying the cognitive synthesis that elicits psychosomatic remembrances (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). This creates challenges in the articulation of personal experiences in an understandable manner.

Occurrences of physical child abuse hurt the fundamental assumptions of the meaning of existence in the victims, the optimistic view of the self, and the consequential perception of others (Tucker & Rodriguez, 2014). Most of the reflections and notions that may be drawn by physical child abuse encompass perceiving the world as an unsafe place to live in, controlling the state of meaning, and obscuring assurance in the fairness of God or His existence. Other effects include loss of self-esteem, the incidence of self-blame, establishment of the impression of justly warranting reprimand and mistreatment, failure to remember things, and difficulties in dealing with trauma in a logical approach.

The link involving parental alcoholism and physical child abuse maybe even more complicated since the abuser is prone to be an alcoholic parent or a friend. Concurrently, abuse to a high number of victims is committed either by a stranger or close relative (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015).

This means that parental alcoholism leads to children being more vulnerable to physical abuse. Tishelman and Fontes (2017) back the abovementioned affirmation and establish that several characteristics (such as parental alcohol abuse) are connected to children’s susceptibility to sexual assault, physical abuse, social segregation, and lack of a person in whom to confide. Additionally, it has been established that while alcoholism by the father is a risk factor for abuse by a relative, alcohol consumption by the mother creates room for sexual violence by a person who is not a family member. The connection behind parental alcoholism and physical child abuse remains unclear.


One of the means through which physical child abuse could be prevented is through taking stringent measures against the abusers such as the enforcement of strong laws that could lead to their imprisonment. The maximum periods of detention have to, in any case, get to some set thresholds that differ from, for example, two to ten years relying on the gravity of the offense and considering the age children and bodily harm caused.

Stimulation to minors with the aim of luring them to take part in the sexual act by the adults should also be heavily punished (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015). Officials of the criminal justice system ought to be held answerable and punished if they take a bribe with the aim of controlling the case in favor of the abusers (Tucker & Rodriguez, 2014). To prevent any instances of recidivism, the perpetrators charged with any of the cases of physical child abuse have to be barred from being in settings that permit direct contact with the susceptible children. If such individuals are employed in settings that handle children’s affairs, employers have to seek satisfactory details regarding the nature of their conviction and evaluate their suitability.

The global community must raise awareness and put measures for handling the problem. For instance, the United States must champion the fight against child physical abuse by ensuring that such practices as child pornography web sites that have been hosted in the country are swiftly removed and attempts made to promote the removal of such sites internationally. Furthermore, under some conditions concerning the accuracy and Internet user information, there has to be the alternative of reporting the occurrence of physical abuse, especially by minors (Goldman, 2014).

Additionally, a comprehensive investigation has to be undertaken against suspects of child physical abuse. Investigations and trials concerning such crimes must not just depend on a single account or allegations made by a victim and have to continue irrespective of the victims’ parents or guardians deciding to withdraw the case or renounce the evidence. Finally, for the severe crimes, prosecution and penalty have to be arrived at without needless delays following the end of investigations.


A child from alcoholic parents has a high likelihood of experiencing physical abuse and resultant emotional disturbance and distress. Studies ascertain that alcohol abuse by parents makes them incapable of sufficiently protecting their children from physical abuse or sexual assault that could be carried out by other people, or even by themselves (the drinking parents). Such sort of ignorance and brutality against children attributable to alcohol consumption may only be effectively addressed by first helping the parents out of the addiction (Goldman, 2014). In case only the problem of alcoholism is addressed, the result is just a sober but potential abuser rather than a perpetrator under the influence of alcohol.

Spirituality offers an unmatched boost to addressing physical child abuse by decreasing the impact through engagement in religious practices (for instance, helping the perpetrator avoid such evil and instead choose to pursue the Christian doctrine) or facilitation of social welfare through integration into sacred societies. Enhancement of coping approaches and helpful manner of resolving distress brings about the realization of one’s purpose and significance in life (Rodriguez & Tucker, 2015).

Spirituality through pastoral counseling boosts psychological healing through the activation of the convalescence response via prayer and meditation (Tucker & Rodriguez, 2014). Becoming a follower of religion also makes sure that survivors get caring people who will offer essential support and assistance.

Both the abuser and victim in physical child abuse ought to go through counseling to acquire insights on the best way of handling their aggravations, bitterness, unquenchable craving, and mental health problem. In situations where the abusers are alcoholics, the given treatment ought to concentrate on helping them to stop alcohol consumption (Goldman, 2014). In worse occurrences, for example, the death of the victim following physical abuse, imprisonment, and other strict legal actions have to be provided together with counseling. For effective counseling, the therapist must get as many details as possible to design a successful treatment approach. The therapist has to focus on the present and past occurrences and signs of continued corporal punishment or sexual abuse.

Understanding the unconditional love and forgiveness of God offers spiritual encouragement that assists the survivor to recuperate and relinquish wrath and resentment. This also enables the perpetrator to avoid evil and center on God for forgiveness. Consequently, the Bible does not just concentrate on the victims but also the perpetrators hence creating an extensive remedy to the problem. Christianity offers pardon and hope, which shun the sense of helplessness following the trauma of child physical abuse (Tucker & Rodriguez, 2014).

Positive coping approaches in Christianity through praying, reading the Bible, and getting encouragement from other believers employ the power of God in tackling the impact of abuse. Such approaches create divine strength and develop sufficient coping approaches to conquer the sense of weakness, susceptibility, and culpability effectively.


Physical child abuse affects the growth and development of children negatively thus demands the establishment of successful ways of preventing its incidence and the means of assisting the victims. Parental alcoholism possibly augments the vulnerability of children to child sexual abuse by hampering the ability of parents to provide accommodating, fostering, and caring surroundings. Physical child abuse could be prevented by taking stringent measures against the abusers such as the implementation of laws that could lead to their detention. It is apparent that alcoholism by parents makes them less available to defend their children from instances of physical abuse when compared to non-drinking parents.

Successful solutions to such cases of abuse ought to tackle both the problem of alcoholism and sexual abuse. Constructive spiritual coping methods encompass seeking comfort from the Bible to make the survivor establish strong connections with God through practices like prayer and forgiveness. Spirituality may be used in pastoral counseling for the good of both the victim and the abuser through the suppression of fear and promising them of the unfailing love of God.


Goldman, L. (2014). Breaking the Silence: A guide to helping children with complicated grief-suicide, homicide, aids, violence, and abuse. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge. Web.

Janssen, T. L., Van Dijk, M., Al Malki, I., & Van As, A. B. (2013). Management of physical child abuse in South Africa: Literature review and children’s hospital data analysis. Pediatrics and International Child Health, 33(4), 216-227. Web.

Ridings, L. E., Beasley, L. O., & Silovsky, J. F. (2017). Consideration of risk and protective factors for families at risk for child maltreatment: An intervention approach. Journal of Family Violence, 32(2), 179-188.

Rodriguez, C. M., & Tucker, M. C. (2015). Predicting maternal physical child abuse risk beyond distress and social support: Additive role of cognitive processes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(6), 1780-1790. Web.

Southall, D., & MacDonald, R. (2013). Protecting children from abuse: A neglected but crucial priority for the international child health agenda. Pediatrics and International Child Health, 33(4), 199-206. Web.

Tishelman, A. C., & Fontes, L. A. (2017). Religion in child sexual abuse forensic interviews. Child Abuse & Neglect, 63, 120-130.

Tucker, M. C., & Rodriguez, C. M. (2014). Family dysfunction and social isolation as moderators between stress and child physical abuse risk. Journal of Family Violence, 29(2), 175-186. Web.

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