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Burn Injuries in Child Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2001
24 pages
This booklet contains information to assist in distinguishing between burns that were intentionally inflicted on a child and burns resulting from accidental contact with hot objects.
Child abuse burn victims are almost always under the age of 10, with the majority under age two. Because many of the victims cannot speak for themselves, it is critical that individuals first responding to a call for assistance be able to immediately identify intentional burning. It is also important that responsible caretakers not be unjustly accused. Inflicted burns often leave characteristic patterns of injury that cannot be concealed. These patterns, along with the history of the burn incident, are primary indicators of inflicted rather then accidental burns. This booklet provides guidance on determining the veracity of a caretaker's report by recreating the incident and a burn evidence worksheet for use at the scene of an investigation. It also includes information on the distinctions between immersion and contact burns, skin conditions that may simulate abuse, and helpful investigative techniques.

Date Published: June 1, 2001