It has been found that more than 65% of all cases of physical abuse involve injuries to the head, neck, or mouth . Therefore, dentists are in a prime position to be an observer of child abuse, which occurs at all socio-economic levels. However, dentists have made less than 1% of all reports . That the reporting is so low could be due to any of the following reasons:
1. The family is well known the dental office.
2. There is a fear of losing good patients.
3. There is a fear of embarrassment.
4. There is a fear of reprisals.
5. The dentist may not be aware of the legal duty to report or may be afraid of the process.
All 50 states have passed child abuse reporting laws under the Child Abuse Prevention Act of 1974 . These reporting laws list dentists as a mandated reporter; hence, dentists are required to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters are protected by law from criminal and civil liabilities arising from good faith reporting of suspected child abuse. Many states have criminal penalties for failing to report a suspected child abuse case. Such liabilities are not normally covered by professional malpractice insurance. Therefore, it is wise to report any suspected child abuse case. It is better for the well-being of the child to err in your suspicions than to overlook the abuse due to the aforementioned reasons. Ethically, under malfeasance and beneficence, it is the right thing to do.
Child abuse is an act of commission. It is nonaccidental injury or trauma inflicted on a minor (under 18 year of age) by a parent or other caregiver. It is the infliction of serious physical injury, the creation of a substantial risk of serious injury, or commission of an act of sexual abuse against the child.
Child maltreatment and child neglect are acts of omission. Child maltreatment refers to the quality of care given the child. This occurs when the parent or caregiver fails to exercise the minimum degree of care for the child by providing food, clothing, shelter, or education. It also includes emotional abuse or neglect. Child n/>