Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse

Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect

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Under the leadership of Professor Douglas J. Besharov, first director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the University of Marylandís Welfare Reform Academy offers a comprehensive set of training materials on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.

 

Topics include:
Reporting obligations
Liability for failing to report
Physical abuse
Sexual abuse
Physical neglect
Psychological maltreatment
Reportable parental disabilities
Interviewing parents/Preserving evidence

Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned

This easy-to-read textbook is a guide for child-serving professionals—including teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, day care workers, and police—as well as laypersons and concerned parents. With numerous charts, illustrations, and checklists, it describes the legal framework for reporting child abuse, and gives concrete advice about deciding to report and the reporting process. The book also contains a special section designed to help parents recognize if their child is being abused, as well as advice for parents who have been reported.

Trainer's Manual

Designed to be used with the textbook, the trainerís package includes a 336-page trainerís manual, 87 color transparencies (overheads), and a copy of the textbook Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned.

The trainerís manual is written in simple, concise language, and follows the structure of the textbook, so that the two can be used together. Divided into self-contained training modules that address specific forms of child maltreatment, the manual contains extensive trainerís notes, discussion questions, and group exercises.

Training Videos

The entire curriculum is also available in six, high-quality videos. Each three-hour video is comprised of a 90-minute lecture by Professor Besharov, followed by a panel discussion with national experts.

A six-hour introductory video that covers all aspects of recognizing and reporting child abuse is also available, and can be used alone or as an introduction to the comprehensive training program.

CEU Credits

The University of Maryland offers continuing education units to individuals as well as professional trainers. Learn more about how to obtain or award CEUs on our website.

Ordering Information

 

Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect:
The Need for Better Reporting

In recent years, major progress has been made in combating child abuse. Between 1963 and 1999, the number of children reported as suspected victims of child abuse and neglect rose from about 150,000 children to more than 3 million children, a 20-fold increase. Although some of this increase reflects an increase in the amount of child maltreatment in our society, most experts believe that the vast bulk of additional reports is the result of better identification on the part of professionals and laypersons.

As a result, many thousands of children have been saved from death and serious injury. The best estimate is that child abuse and neglect deaths fell from over 3,000 a year (and perhaps as many as 5,000) in the late 1960s to about 1,200 a year in the late 1990s.

Yet, many children continue to fall through the cracks. According to federal government studies, professionals such as physicians, teachers, and day care personnel still fail to report large numbers of the maltreated children they see.

Simply generating more and more reports, however, is not the answer. In recent years, the problem of nonreporting has been compounded by the problem of inappropriate reporting. In 1998, about 65 percent of all reports were labeled "unfounded" after being investigated. (This is in sharp contrast to 1975, when the comparable figure was about 35 percent.) Although rules, procedures, and even terminology vary (some states use the phrase "unfounded", others "unsubstantiated" or "not indicated"), in essence, an "unfounded" report is one that is dismissed after an investigation finds insufficient evidence upon which to proceed.

Some professionals defend the high level of unfounded reports as the necessary price for identifying endangered children. However, the determination that a report is unfounded can be made only after what is often a traumatic investigation and, inherently, a breach of parental and family privacy. Besides being unfair to the children and parents involved, inappropriate reporting places an unnecessary burden on already overwhelmed child protective agencies--and threatens to undermine public support for their efforts. For example, over 40 percent of the child abuse deaths between 1995 and 1997 involved children previously known to the authorities. Tens of thousands of other children suffer serious injuries short of death while under child protective agency supervision.

Better--and more accurate--reporting depends on continuing public and professional education efforts. Child-serving professionals--including teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, day care workers, police, and others--need to be much better informed about what to report, and what not to report. That is why I developed the materials in Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse. This curriculum was designed to be easy to use and to help both professionals and laypersons recognize and report all forms of suspected child maltreatment.

 


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