Aspects of Abuse: Recognizing and Responding to Child Maltreatment

Allison M. Jackson, Natalie Kissoon, Christian Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Child maltreatment is a public health problem and toxic stress impacting at least 1 in 8 children by the age of 18 years. Maltreatment can take the form of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment. While some children may experience only one form of maltreatment, others may survive multiple forms, and in some cases particularly complex forms of maltreatment such as torture and medical child abuse. When considering maltreatment, providers should be adept at obtaining a thorough history not only from the parent but when appropriate also from the patient. The most common form of child maltreatment is neglect, which encompasses nutritional and medical neglect, as well as other forms such as physical and emotional neglect. Talking with caregivers about stressors and barriers to care may give insight into the etiology for neglect and is an opportunity for the provider to offer or refer for needed assistance. Familiarity with injury patterns and distribution in the context of developmental milestones and injury mechanisms is critical to the recognition of physical abuse. While most anogenital exam results of child victims of sexual abuse are normal, knowing the normal variations for the female genitalia, and thereby recognizing abnormal findings, is important not only forensically but also more importantly for patient care. Pattern recognition does not only apply to specific injuries or constellation of injuries but also applies to patterns of behavior. Harmful patterns of behavior include psychological maltreatment and medical child abuse, both of which cause significant harm to patients. As health professionals serving children and families, pediatric providers are in a unique position to identify suspected maltreatment and intervene through the health care system in order to manage the physical and psychological consequences of maltreatment and to promote the safety and well-being of children and youth by making referrals to child protective services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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