Physical abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes, illness in a child. This is known as fabricated or induced illness.

Pre-birth assessment

A pre-birth assessment should be undertaken on all pre-birth referrals as early as possible, preferably before 20 weeks, where:

  • a parent or other adult in the household, or regular visitor, has been identified as posing a risk to children
  • a sibling in the household is subject of a child protection plan
  • a sibling has previously been removed from the household either temporarily or by court order
  • the parent is a looked after child
  • there are significant domestic violence issues
  • the degree of parental substance misuse is likely to impact significantly on the baby's safety or development
  • there are significant concerns about parental ability to self-care and/or to care for the child e.g. unsupported, young or learning disabled mother
  • any other concern exists that the baby may have suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm including a parent previously suspected of fabricating or inducing illness in a child or harming a child
  • a child aged under 13 is found to be pregnant.
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