Information that can help in identifying, reporting, and treating child abuse and neglect is more readily available to the pediatrician than ever before. Family and community violence remain national public health concerns. The medical literature on the epidemiology of child abuse and violent behavior continues to expand, as does the body of knowledge on the developmental and behavioral outcomes of abuse, current treatments, and prevention of child abuse via home visitation. The lack of funding for both medical and mental health-based child abuse research and the continual need for trained researchers and clinicians in the field remain challenges. With the current economic downturn and budget crises, the community response to reports of abuse and neglect and to requests for services for families at risk might suffer. Now, more than ever, the pediatrician must advocate at the local community and national governmental levels for prevention, intervention, treatment, and support services for child abuse victims and their families. The pediatrician should not be deterred from reporting child abuse concerns because "nothing will happen" or "services cannot be provided" to a family or child. Pediatricians play a vital role in educating social service agencies about treatments needed for the abused child, in supporting parents by helping them acknowledge the problems that led to the abuse, and in enabling them to ask for help before abuse occurs. As C. Henry Kempe said, the parents who "love their children very much, but not very well" need our help so they might learn to love and raise their children nonviolently.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health