Nursing and Child Abuse

Nursing and Child Abuse


Child abuse is an aspect, which has potential issues on the overall development and growth of children. It is imperative that nurses, while in their practice, be involved in recognition of child abuse cases and rendering measures to avert these cases as well as improving the outcomes for the vulnerable children. The purpose of this paper is to examine the case scenario involving Emma, a three-month-old young girl, and study the well-being and development of the girl, the risks of abuse that may be evident and their potential impact on her health.

Potential Impact of Abuse of Infant in Regards to Development and Wellbeing

Maltreatment of children in their infancy has been shown to have adverse effects on the development of their child, especially in their cognitive and brain development as well as attachment issues. According to Harper, Feldman, Sugar, Anderst, Lindberg, and Examining Siblings to Recognize Abuse Investigators. (2014), infants are not capable of defending themselves, and hence all their activities are done on their behalf by caregivers. One of the primary negative impacts is that the said child’s mental and intellectual mindset is affected and in the long-term growth, the minor is bound to be affected by health problems, mental disorders, and even substance addiction.

According to Flaherty, Perez-Rossello, Levine, Hennrikus, and American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. (2014), the infants, under the cases of maltreatment and abusal, contend with fear and therefore, as they develop and grow, the minors become detached from people due to the instilled fear that an action might be undertaken on them. Moreover, during development, the child may end up being aggressive and violent due to repetitive abuse since toddlers learn from the actions they see from their caregivers. According to Sheets, Leach, Koszewski, Lessmeier, Nugent, and Simpson, (2013), such an infant growing under the abusive conditions may end up being violent in school and with other children since the child has learned that violence is a healthy activity in their growing stages.

Factors Indicating Abuse

In the case of Emma, after the examination, various factors can be selected to depict abuse of the child. One of the factors is that she is hard to rouse, a trait indicating that the child had not been having enough sleep. This is evident also because she was not able to remain awake when her vital signs were being taken. Another factor that may reveal that the child was being abused is that within her torso she had bruises, which were oval shaped, as well as some bruises within her occiput.

Jamie’s explanation concerning the oval shaped bruises on the back of her head does not suffice because if the child was to roll off the couch, then the bruises would not be oval in shape. Moreover, for the child to have such bruises within the torso, clear indications within the head should be present, such as bumps due to the fall impact. From a nursing perspective, these bruises might emanate from child pinching especially due to their shape. Therefore, Jamie’s explanations are vague and fail to suffice as proof of the child rolling off the couch. There is evidence that the child has been facing abuse from the caregivers.

Professional Responsibilities if abuse is suspected

With the above indicators to show presence of infant abuse possibility, there is a need for professional activities to be undertaken for the issue to be solved. According to Congress, (2017), it is important first to be sure of the suspected case of child abuse. This would involve consulting colleagues and further examination of the infant caregivers on the alleged abuse. However, talking to the caregivers, who in this case are the parents, should only be undertaken if there is a belief that the child’s safety will not be jeopardized. When there is substantive information about the abuse of the child, then it is important to report the issue to the child protection institution’s management for further accountability (Christian, & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. 2015).

According to Pietrantonio, Wright, Gibson, Alldred, Jacobson, and Niec (2013), reporting the matter to the child protection is important. It is the nurse’s responsibility to maintain infants safety especially if there are cases of child abuse. The reports submitted to the child protection should have a clear description of the indicators of abuse, the information of their family, the information on the impact of the abuse on the child and the possible reasons for the abuse.


Maltreatment of children in their infancy has been shown to have adverse effects on the development of the said parent’s child, especially in the minor’s cognitive and brain development as well as attachment issues. As explained, one of the factors indicating abuse in Emma’s situation is inability of the toddler to have enough sleep. Another discussed factor that might show that the child was being abused is that within her torso she had oval shaped bruises as well as other bruises within her occiput. Summarily, nurses are responsible for reporting such matters to an institution’s child protection department for the matter to be considered in detail and interventions be made.


Christian, C. W., & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. (2015). The evaluation of suspected child physical abuse. Pediatrics135(5), e1337-e1354. From

Congress, E. P. (2017). What social workers should know about ethics: Understanding and resolving practice dilemmas. Social Work Ethics, 1909. From

Flaherty, E. G., Perez-Rossello, J. M., Levine, M. A., Hennrikus, W. L., & American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. (2014). Evaluating children with fractures for child physical abuse. Pediatrics133(2), e477-e489. From

Harper, N. S., Feldman, K. W., Sugar, N. F., Anderst, J. D., Lindberg, D. M., & Examining Siblings to Recognize Abuse Investigators. (2014). Additional injuries in young infants with concern for abuse and apparently isolated bruises. The Journal of pediatrics165(2), 383-388. From

Pietrantonio, A. M., Wright, E., Gibson, K. N., Alldred, T., Jacobson, D., & Niec, A. (2013). Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect: Crafting a positive process for health professionals and caregivers. Child abuse & neglect37(2), 102-109. From

Sheets, L. K., Leach, M. E., Koszewski, I. J., Lessmeier, A. M., Nugent, M., & Simpson, P. (2013). Sentinel injuries in infants evaluated for child physical abuse. Pediatrics131(4), 701-707. From

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