According the the Texas Family Code physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm; failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child.
Physical abuse refers to ‘any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a person caring or a child’. Physical abuse is the type of abuse most likely to be accompanied by another form, specifically emotional abuse or neglect. When a parent or caregiver ‘makes up’ an illness it is also considered physical abuse.
Adults who physically abuse children may have unrealistic expectations of their child, not understanding the child’s needs or how to interact with them. This can be fueled by their own health, relationship, child abuse histories or manifest with emotional or behavioral challenges including anger management issues.
Signs in childhood
Physically abused children find it difficult relating to their peers and the adults around them. The constant threat of violence at home makes them perpetually vigilant and mistrustful, and they may be overly domineering and aggressive in their attempts to predict and control other people's behavior. They are also vulnerable to "emotional storms", or instances of overwhelming emotional responses to everyday situations
Physically abused children may also have problems with academic achievement, physical development and coordination, developing friendships and relationships, aggression and anger management, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Signs in adulthood
Adults physically abused in childhood are at increased risk of either aggressive and violent behavior, or shy and avoidant behavior leading to rejection or re-victimization. This polarized behavior is often driven by hyper-vigilance and the anticipation of threat and violence even in everyday situations. Men with a history of physical abuse in childhood are particularly prone to violent behavior, and physically abused men are over-represented amongst violent and sexual offenders.