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Child abuse: injuries that raise eyebrows

by Ridley&Hall in Child care, Children, Natalie Stephenson-Quayle posted June 3, 2021.

Within this blog we are going to be looking at 3 sets of injuries which raise eyebrows when brought to a medical practitioner, especially when it is a young child who has sustained these injuries. The injuries this blog will focus on are:

  1. Spiral Fractures
  2. Torn Frenulum
  3. Bruised Ear

When these injuries occur, and the medical practitioner believes the explanation of the guardian of the child does not match the cause of the injury, then they will most likely contact Social Services to initiate an investigation into what has happened.

Spiral Fractures:

Spiral Fractures happen as a result of one limb being in motion and the other end of the limb being fixed. An example would be when a foot is fixed on the floor, but the leg keeps moving. Generally, accidental spiral fractures in pre-school children are of the tibia (this is the shin bone on your leg). This occurs when a child falls a short distance over an extended leg.

However, medical professionals treat spiral fractures as highly suspicious due to them resulting from forceful twisting or jerking of a limb. This can be a key indicator that a child is suffering from physical abuse from a parent or from someone who has access to them.

Torn Frenulum:

A person has two frenula known as the Superior Labia Frenulum and the Inferior Labia Frenulum. They are located in the mouth, with the superior frenulum attaching the upper lip to your gum and the inferior frenulum attaching the lower lip to your gum.

Generally, the torn frenulum can be caused by hitting the mouth or if the lip is pulled or stretched. When it is torn, bleeding will occur and this can often be managed by applying pressure to the outside of the lip.

Examples of what can cause a torn frenulum include:

  • Forceful feeding
  • Forceful placement of the pacifier
  • Gagging
  • Gripping or stretching of the lip
  • Vigorous rubbing of the lip
  • Direct forceful blow to the lip

Bruised Ear

Bruising can, but does not always, indicate child abuse. The most common places for bruising to occur when a child is being abused is the head, ear, face, trunk, buttocks and arms.

It is unusual for bruising to occur on the ear, therefore when it happens in children, medical practitioners will always question how it occurred. A large, forceful smack to the side of the head/ear area can cause the bruising as well as nipping and pinching the ear.

If Social Services investigate injuries which have concerned them and medical practitioners, and they issue care proceedings, Ridley & Hall will be able to support you along the way. At Ridley & Hall, we break down the barriers of ‘typical’ solicitors and build a rapport with clients to ensure that they feel supported and important. Please do not hesitate to contact us via our freephone 0800 8 60 62 65.

Natalie Stephenson Quayle

Natalie Stephenson Quayle – Paralegal




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