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Child Abuse

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Overview

Child AbuseThe ability to recognize inconsistencies in a medical history and signs that may raise suspicion of non-accidental trauma due to child abuse is an important skill for any doctor who cares for children to develop.

There is a strong social support system in the United States, which includes a Child Protective Services (CPS) department in each state. The names of such agencies may vary from state to state, but all have a common mission to protect children from physical and sexual abuse and neglect. This applies not only to the use of physical methods of discipline, but also to dangerous actions such as leaving a young child alone in a vehicle or home. Such actions can lead to the sanction or prosecution of the caregiver for the failure to provide proper care.

By law, a physician must report suspicions of child abuse through the appropriate channels whenever there is significant suspicion of non-accidental injury given the presentation and circumstances of the case. Failure to do so can result in civil or criminal penalties. Even worse, the child remains at risk for repeated abuse, sometimes leading to life-threatening injuries.

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