Resources for Understanding Pediatric Bruising Patterns

March 17, 2021 — Recent NIJ resources aim to further the understanding of pediatric bruising patterns: that is, tell-tale bruising patterns in injured children that help physicians and forensic investigators differentiate between accidental injuries and physical abuse.

According to the NIJ, bruising on the ear, buttocks, feet, or hands, for example, are not typical of accidental injury and should alert physicians to possible abuse.

Some of the resources offered by the NIJ include:

Child Abuse or Accident? Bringing Science to Pediatric Emergency Departments and Forensic Investigations — This article from the National Institute of Justice Journal examines how researchers are developing a probability model to predict child head injuries in falls.

Impact Sites Representing Potential Bruising Locations Associated With Rearward Falls in Children — This NIJ-sponsored study from April 2016 utilized a 12-month-old pediatric anthropomorphic test device (ATD) adapted with a custom-developed, force-sensing skin to predict potential bruising locations during rearward falls from standing.

Development of a Surrogate Bruising Detection System to Describe Bruising Patterns Associated with Common Childhood Falls — This paper describes research with a long-term goal of developing a forensic tool to delineate between child abuse and accidents based on presenting bruising patterns.

Bruising as a Forensic Marker of Physical Elder Abuse — This study examined bruising on 67 adults aged 65 and older who had been reported to Adult Protective Services for suspected physical elder abuse.

"Pediatric Bruising Patterns" is the NIJ's Term of the Month.


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Item of Interest

The language barrier between English-speaking investigators and Spanish-speaking witnesses is a growing problem. (Updated 28 February 2011)