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Interventions for Child Abuse and Neglect

IDENTIFICATION AND REPORTING

The first step in treating child abuse is to identify children in need of services. As noted above, by the 1970s, all states enacted mandatory child-maltreatment reporting laws. Each year, millions of children are reported as suspected victims of maltreatment. Consequently, considerable effort is devoted to improving the techniques of identifying and reporting cases of child abuse to the proper human service agencies. Such steps involve a variety of efforts, which are coordinated among numerous public and private agencies. Public and private agencies engage in training programs to educate potential reporters about the signs of abuse. During the 1980s and 1990s, public education and awareness programs greatly increased the number of child abuse and neglect reports. For an example of another country manages reports of suspected child maltreatment without requiring reporting see Global Perspectives 8.1.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES BOX 8.1 MANAGING CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

Only the United States and a few other nations manage child maltreatment through the use of mandatory reporting laws and investigations by child protective service investigators. In Europe, only France enacted mandatory reporting codes that require physicians to report cases of child abuse to child protective services.

The Netherlands employs a unique system for managing child maltreatment. Rather than require mandatory reporting, the Dutch employ a system of “confidential doctors.” Anyone suspecting that a child is being maltreated can (voluntarily) contact a “confidential doctor.” The contact can include a request for advice for handling the matter or a referral to other professionals for assistance. The confidential doctor is the point person and the responsible professional for organizing assistance and contacting and arranging for appropriate services (Doek, 1991). Belgium and Germany have also adopted the confidential doctor approach.

Absent mandatory reporting of child maltreatment in Europe, most European nations employ the criminal justice system to respond to instances of child sexual abuse.

Source: Doek, J. E. (1991). Management of child abuse and neglect at the International Level: Trends and Perspectives. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, 15, 51-56.

 
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