4 Child Abuse and Neglect Nursing Care Plans


To develop an effective nursing care plan for child abuse, it is essential to understand the nursing diagnosis for this condition. Discover common nursing diagnoses for child abuse and strategies to improve patient outcomes through assessment, planning, and intervention.

What is Child Abuse?

The term child abuse is used to describe any neglect or mistreatment of infants or children including the infliction of emotional pain, physical injury, or sexual exploitation. Neglect or abuse is most often inflicted by the child’s biological parents. Others who have been implicated include foster parents, babysitters, boyfriends, friends, and daycare workers. Nurses are legally and morally responsible to identify children who may be maltreated and to report findings to protect the child from further abuse.

Neglect is the most common form of abuse and may include deprivation of basic physical or emotional needs: food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, affection, love, and nurturing. Emotional abuse stems from rejection, isolation, and/or terrorizing the child.

Physical abuse may result in burns, bruises, fractures, lacerations, or poisoning. Infants may suffer from “shaken baby syndrome” with severe or fatal neurologic injuries caused
by the violent shaking of the infant. Signs of the shaken baby syndrome include retinal and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Signs of sexual abuse include bruising or bleeding of the anus or genitals, genital discharge, odor, severe itching or pain, and sexually transmitted diseases. A discrepancy between the nature of the child’s injuries and the reported cause of injury is a frequent clue that abuse has occurred.

Nursing Care Plans

The major nursing care planning goals for the child experiencing abuse includes ensuring adequate nutrition, promoting the safety of the abused child, providing emotional support to the child and family, improving parenting skills, and building parental confidence.


Here are four (4) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis (NDx) for child abuse:

  1. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  2. Anxiety
  3. Impaired Parenting
  4. Risk for Trauma

Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements

Child abuse can lead to malnutrition in patients due to neglect, inadequate food intake, or limited access to food. These factors can have serious long-term effects on the child’s health and development, emphasizing the need for appropriate nursing care plans.

Nursing Diagnosis

  • Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements

May be related to

  • Inability to ingest food
  • Parental neglect on nutritional status

Possibly evidenced by

  • Loss of subcutaneous fat
  • Inadequate amount of food
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Withholding of food by parent/caretaker
  • Failure to thrive

Desired Outcomes

  • The child will manifest no further weight loss and, if malnourished, will gain 2.2 lb (1 kg)
    per week.

Nursing Assessment and Rationales

1. Assess for signs and symptoms of malnutrition.
A child with nutritional deficiency manifests decreased attention span, confused, pale and dry skin, subcutaneous tissue loss, dull and brittle hair, and red, swollen tongue and mucous membranes.

2. Assess and record the amount, consistency, and color of stools and emesis.
Provide a guide on the absorption of nutrients in the body.

3. Monitor intake and output and food intake; Weigh client daily.
Allows the evaluation of the number of calories being consumed per day and the progress of nutritional therapy.

Nursing Interventions and Rationales

1. Maintain good oral hygiene prior to meals.
Promotes good appetite and enhances the taste of foods/fluids.

2. Encourage parents to assist the child during feeding.
Eating as a self-care activity enhances self-esteem.

3. Encourage small, frequent feedings high in carbohydrates and protein.
Small meals decrease fatigue and are easier to tolerate.

4. Encourage adequate rest periods.
Minimizes fatigue and improves the child’s appetite.

5. Consider the possible need for enteral or parenteral nutritional support as indicated.
Nutritional support may be recommended for those who are unable to maintain nutritional intake by the oral route.

6. Consult and refer to a dietitian or nutritional support team for dietary counseling.
A dietitian or nutritional support team can individualize the child’s diet within prescribed restrictions


Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

Disclosure: Included below are affiliate links from Amazon at no additional cost from you. We may earn a small commission from your purchase. For more information, check out our privacy policy.

Ackley and Ladwig’s Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care
We love this book because of its evidence-based approach to nursing interventions. This care plan handbook uses an easy, three-step system to guide you through client assessment, nursing diagnosis, and care planning. Includes step-by-step instructions showing how to implement care and evaluate outcomes, and help you build skills in diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking.

Nursing Care Plans – Nursing Diagnosis & Intervention (10th Edition)
Includes over two hundred care plans that reflect the most recent evidence-based guidelines. New to this edition are ICNP diagnoses, care plans on LGBTQ health issues and on electrolytes and acid-base balance.

NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses: Definitions & Classification, 2021-2023
The definitive guide to nursing diagnoses is reviewed and approved by the NANDA International. In this new version of a pioneering text, all introductory chapters have been rewritten to provide nurses with the essential information they need to comprehend assessment, its relationship to diagnosis and clinical reasoning, and the purpose and application of taxonomic organization at the bedside. A total of 46 new nursing diagnoses and 67 amended nursing diagnostics are presented.

Nurse’s Pocket Guide: Diagnoses, Prioritized Interventions, and Rationales
Quick-reference tool includes all you need to identify the correct diagnoses for efficient patient care planning. The sixteenth edition includes the most recent nursing diagnoses and interventions from NANDA-I 2021-2023 and an alphabetized listing of nursing diagnoses covering more than 400 disorders.

Nursing Diagnosis Manual: Planning, Individualizing, and Documenting Client Care 
Identify interventions to plan, individualize, and document care for more than 800 diseases and disorders. Only in the Nursing Diagnosis Manual will you find for each diagnosis…. subjectively and objectively – sample clinical applications, prioritized action/interventions with rationales – a documentation section, and much more!

All-in-One Nursing Care Planning Resource – E-Book: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Maternity, and Psychiatric-Mental Health 
Includes over 100 care plans for medical-surgical, maternity/OB, pediatrics, and psychiatric and mental health. Interprofessional “patient problems” focus familiarizes you with how to speak to patients.

See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans for pediatric conditions and diseases:


Paul Martin R.N. brings his wealth of experience from five years as a medical-surgical nurse to his role as a nursing instructor and writer for Nurseslabs, where he shares his expertise in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health to help students and nurses become the best version of themselves and elevate the nursing profession.

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