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.
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.