One of the most difficult and heartbreaking things parents can face is the potential for harm to their children. No one wants to think about it, but abuse is a fact of life for far too many kids. If you are in the difficult place of suspecting harm, then it's crucial to talk to your child about abuse in an age-appropriate and gentle way. It will doubtless be a tough conversation for you as well, but this burden of parenthood comes with the territory.
In general, it's important to approach your child in a caring, non-stressful way to begin the conversation. Understand that your child may have difficulty addressing the subject even if you have all the love and trust in the world. By opening up the conversation, and making sure your child knows you two can talk about anything, you can also set the stage for these more difficult questions.
If you suspect your child is in any immediate danger, then don't hesitate to alert authorities at once. Any signs of physical abuse should be examined right away at a hospital or other healthcare facility. For advice and referrals to local sources of help, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4-A-CHILD or (800) 422-4453.