Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Physical Abuse Accusations in Iowa DHS Cases

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » DCFS and DHS Child Abuse Accusations » Physical Abuse Accusations in Iowa DHS Cases

An accusation of physical abuse is a common reason that Iowa DHS will become involved with a family.  Iowa DHS defines physical abuse as follows:


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“Physical abuse” is defined as any non-accidental physical injury, or injury which is at variance with the history given of it, suffered by a child as the result of the acts or omissions of a person responsible for the care of the child.

Common indicators could include unusual or unexplained burns, bruises, or fractures. Health services personnel should be especially alert to cases of child abuse where inconsistent histories are presented. Inconsistent histories can take the form of an explanation that does not fit the degree or type of injury to the child, or where the story or explanation of the injury changes over time.
Some indicators of child abuse are not visible on the child’s body. Many times there are no physical indicators of abuse. A child’s behavior can change as a result of abuse. Health services personnel need to be alert to possible behavioral indicators of abuse and if they believe those to be present, they are required to make a report. Behavioral indicators include behaviors such as:

  • extreme aggression
  • withdrawal
  • seductive behaviors
  • being uncomfortable with physical contact or closeness

As can be seen from the above text, Iowa DHS broadly defines physical abuse.  Most concerning, though, is the list of behavioral indicators provided by DHS.  In many cases where an inaccurate Iowa DHS report falsely accuses a person of physically abusing a child, that accusation will be based upon the above-listed factors.  The simple fact is that a great many things aside from physical abuse can cause a child to exhibit such behaviors.  Many people are inaccurately accused of child abuse by Iowa DHS each year.


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A person who is accused by Iowa DHS of physical abuse is wise to refrain from speaking to DHS on their own, as doing so can cause a variety of problems.  Instead, they should work with their attorney to handle the case properly, as a DHS child abuse accusation can have significant negative consequences for all areas of a person’s life.


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