Gonzales Regional Children's Advocacy Center
Gonzales and Lavaca
1604 St. Paul St., Gonzales, Tx 78629  Phone 830-672-1278
Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas
National Children's Alliance
A 501 (C) (3) Tax exempt organization
To restore the dignity, hope
and security to children of
Gonzales, Lavaca and
surrounding counties by uniting
public officials and our
Physical Abuse of a Child
Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child.  It may be the result of a deliberate attempt to hurt the
child, but not always.  It can also result from severe discipline, such as using a belt on a child, or physical
punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age or physical condition.

Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline—ways to
make children learn to behave.  But there is a big difference between using physical punishment to discipline and
physical abuse.  The point of disciplining children is to teach them right from wrong, not to make them live in fear.

In physical abuse, unlike physical forms of discipline, the following elements are present:

•  Unpredictability.  The child never knows what is going to set the parent off.  There are no clear boundaries or
rules.  The child is constantly walking on eggshells, never sure what behavior will trigger a physical assault.
•  Lashing out in anger.  Physically abusive parents act out of anger and the desire to assert control, not the
motivation to lovingly teach the child.  The angrier the parent, the more intense the abuse.
•  Using fear to control behavior.  Parents who are physically abusive may believe that their children need to fear
them in order to behave, so they use physical abuse to “keep their child in line.”  However, what children are really
learning is how to avoid being hit, not how to behave or grow as individuals.

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in Children

• Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts or cuts
• Is always watchful and “on alert”, as if waiting for something bad to happen
• Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt
• Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home
• Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long sleeved shirts on hot days