Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952668 | Print ISBN: 9781412909488 | Online ISBN: 9781412952668| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Child Abuse: Physical
Each week, state agencies designed to care for the needs of children receive more than 50,000 reports of child abuse and neglect. Of these reports, 19% involve potential physical abuse. Physical abuse is generally defined as any act of commission by an adult that leaves a mark on a child. Although the majority of the cases are not life threatening, all incidents of physical abuse leave lasting emotional and psychological scars on child victims. Many theories have examined the causes behind acts of physical abuse. Since the 1970s, researchers have worked to develop models of the characteristics of acts physical abuse committed against children. Current perspectives agree that physical abuse is not caused by one or two factors but by a system of interconnected characteristics and events. The majority of causes can be organized into three broad categories: parent– child interactional variables; environmental and life stress variables; and social, cultural, ...