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About the Child Abuse Training
Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse

The proper recognition and reporting of child abuse are the fundamental first steps in protecting endangered children. Better — and more accurate — reporting depends on continuing public and professional education efforts.

Child abuse is a major national concern. Studies show that each year over 1 million children are abused or neglected by their parents. The children who live through years of assault, degradation, and neglect bear emotional scars that can last for years. We all pay the price of their suffering. Maltreated children often grow up to vent on their own children — and others — the violence and aggression their parents visited on them.

These six, studio-quality, three-hour video programs, moderated by child abuse expert and University of Maryland professor Douglas J. Besharov, provide expert training on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect. The informative materials tools are suitable for professionals experienced in making reports on suspected child abuse, child protective and child welfare workers, and those without any previous training on the subject. CEU credits are available.

The six videoconferences on recognizing and reporting child abuse were broadcast in 2001, sponsored by the Welfare Reform Academy of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs and the American Enterprise Institute. Cosponsoring organizations included Parents Anonymous, Inc., Prevent Child Abuse America, Childhelp USA, and the Child Welfare League of America.

Associated training tools include:

  • A textbook, Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned ($14.95 each, discounts for multiple copies from the Welfare Reform Academy). (Learn more about the textbook.)

  • A curriculum for use by trainers, Recognizing Child Abuse: The Trainer’s Manual ($140.00 each) – including 87 overheads and a copy of the textbook. (Learn more about the Trainer's Manual.)

Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse: Video Training Topics

  • Video 1: Reporting obligations. This program describes who is legally required to report, who is permitted to report, and the forms of reportable child abuse and neglect (including child endangerment). It examines the criminal and civil penalties for failing to report and describes the legal protections for those who report.

    The three-hour videoconference was aired January 18, 2001, with Douglas J. Besharov as lecturer and moderator. Expert panelists include: Mireille Kanda, M.D., a pediatrician, acting director of the Office of Population Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Caren Kaplan, project manager of Protecting America’s Children at the Child Welfare League of America; and David Lloyd, director of advocacy programs, U.S. Department of Defense.

  • Video 2: Is it physical abuse? This program defines physical abuse, explain how to distinguish "reasonable" corporal punishment from physical abuse, provides guidelines for identifying "suspicious" injuries (and the battered child syndrome), and provides guidelines for using behavioral indicators.

    The three-hour videoconference aired February 15, 2001, with Douglas J. Besharov as lecturer and moderator. Expert panelists include: Donald Bross, a lawyer, professor of pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of education and legal counsel for the Kempe Children’s Center; Wade Horn, the assistant secretary for children and families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Jacqueline Lee, M.D., deputy chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia.

  • Video 3: Is it sexual abuse? This program defines sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, sensitizes participants to the special problems that arise in such cases, and provides guidelines for assessing the statements of children and for using the physical and behavioral indicators for sexual abuse.

    The three-hour videoconference aired March 15, 2001, with Douglas J. Besharov as lecturer and moderator. Expert panelists include: James Egan, M.D., former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital National Medical Center; Anne Hoffman, acting supervisor of the Sexual Abuse Unit of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services; and Jacqueline Lee, M.D., deputy chief medical examiner of the District of Columbia.

  • Video 4: Is it physical neglect? This program defines physical neglect and medical neglect, sensitizes participants to the need to distinguish physical neglect from poverty, and describes the indicators of physical neglect (including physical deprivation and dirty and disordered households).

    The three-hour videoconference aired April 19, 2001, with Douglas J. Besharov as lecturer and moderator. Expert panelists include: Marilyn Benoit, M.D., president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Judith Flores, M.D., associate medical director of the Sunset Park Family Health Center and site director of the Park Slope Family Health Center; and Janet Motz, child protection specialist and the child protection grant program administrator for the Colorado Department of Human Services.

  • Video 5: Is it psychological maltreatment? This program defines psychological maltreatment and provides guidelines for reporting emotional abuse and neglect (including the two?level approach to reporting emotional maltreatment and the diagnostic significance of the failure to treat a child's psychological problems), improper ethical guidance, and educational neglect.

    The three-hour videoconference aired May 17, 2001, with Douglas J. Besharov as lecturer and moderator. Expert panelists include: Mary Allman, a social worker and special education specialist in the Montgomery County, Maryland, public school system; Gustavo Goldstein, M.D., a psychiatrist in Rockville, Maryland; and Jerry Wiener, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine.

  • Video 6: Is it a reportable parental disability? This program defines the severe mental disabilities of parents that are reportable, including severe mental illness, severe mental retardation, and alcohol and drug abuse; and sensitizes participants to the diagnostic significance of a parent's inability to care for a newborn.

    The three-hour videoconference aired June 21, 2001, with Douglas J. Besharov as lecturer and moderator. Expert panelists include: Anne Hoffman, a social worker and acting supervisor of the Sexual Abuse Unit of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services; Judy Howard, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California Los Angeles and chair of the UCLA Child Abuse Policy Committee; and Sally Satel, M.D., W. H. Brady Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and staff psychiatrist at the Oasis Clinic in Washington, D.C.

    Here's how to order.

The video training originated in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area as a series of live videoconferences, which were broadcast live via C-band satellite signal to downlink sites across the country. The programs typically ran for three hours (with a fifteen-minute break at about the program's midpoint). Each child abuse videoconference had about 1,000 downlink sites with somewhere over 20,000 viewers. Later each month, Primedia, Inc., rebroadcast the conference on its satellite to another 2,000-5,000 sites.

    Single Videotape:
    Introduction to Child Abuse Identification and Reporting

    First broadcast on October 6, 1999, this stand-alone, three-hour program provides a useful overview of recognizing and reporting child abuse for students and mandated professionals. The professionally produced video program can stand on its own or serve as an introduction to the Welfare Reform Academy’s 2001 six-video program series. Working in lecture format, supplemented with overheads designed for distance learning (but with no expert panel), Professor Besharov covers the legal framework and the essentials of reporting in different categories.

    The program includes the following topics: Trainer's Preview, Making a Difference, Reporting Obligations, Liability for Failing to Report, Protection for Those Who Report, Sources of Suspicion, Key Concepts, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Physical Neglect, and Being Prepared. Conference cosponsors included Parents Anonymous, Inc. and Prevent Child Abuse America.

Cost: $25 for the first videotape, $20 for the next three additional tapes, $90 for video programs 1 – 6 ($15 per tape). Click here to order.

"Quite simply, your presentation was outstanding. Apart from the valuable information you provided, your 'TV persona' was both relaxed and immediate. The camera work was excellent because the viewers felt you were speaking directly to us (speaking for my wife and myself). You approached the material with a remarkably appropriate blend of seriousness required of the material and with good humor and telling examples. Where someone else might have overpowered viewers with legal jargon, you kept the material lucid and down to earth. Kudos! And thanks!"

Earning CEUs for Training in Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse

The Maryland School of Public Affairs offers eleven continuing education units (11 CEUs) for successful study of each of the six topics of the recognizing and reporting child abuse video training and completion of associated tests.

To receive certificates, participants may apply by email, fax, or mail to the Welfare Reform Academy. CEU candidates:

CEU candidates may receive the pre- and post-tests by email, fax or postal mail. The Welfare Reform Academy will mail a certificate upon successful completion of the post-test.

Costs: There is a $50 fee for the CEU certificate for the first topic of the student’s choice (a price that includes the textbook), plus $25 for the video program on that topic. CEU credit costs $32 each for the next three additional topics of your choice (accompanying videos cost $20 each).

For CEUs on all six topics, the cost is $150, with the textbook included in that price ($25 per certificate). Video programs are charged in addition, at $90 for all six videotapes ($15 per tape).

The continuing education certificates are recognized by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners and the Maryland State Department of Education. Since the laws governing issuance of CEUs vary among different states, we cannot guarantee that other states will recognize the certificates for CEU credit. In our experience, however, most other states do so. For recognition of CEUs in other professions, inquire from your state boards.

"We were able to get three hours of CEU credit from the Ohio Licensing Board for Counselors and Social Workers. Speaks well for the quality of your materials, instructors and information. I was surprised at how fast three hours went, it really kept our attention. Please keep us informed of any upcoming videoconferences."

Who Needs This Training?

The studio-quality videos and additional training tools are designed for use with a variety of audiences and across many settings — from child protective agencies, to professional schools, to community-based programs.

  • Mandated professionals can use the videos (plus text book) as self-study aids and to earn CEU credits. Mandated reporters include a broad range of professionals: teachers, social workers, therapists, psychologists, physicians, nurses, emergency room personnel, school officials, child care workers, dentists, coroners, and medical examiners. In addition, in some states, those required to report suspected child abuse also include pharmacists, foster parents, clergy, attorneys, day care licensing inspectors, film or photo processors, substance abuse counselors, children's camp counselors and staff, family mediators, staff and volunteers in child abuse information and referral programs, and religious healers (such as Christian Science practitioners).

  • Child protective and child welfare agencies can use the materials to build staff skills and to train mandated professionals and other groups in the community.

  • Community and parent groups can use the materials to learn the basics of recognizing and reporting child abuse. Understandable, down-to-earth, and practical — the traing tools are useful for parent and foster parent groups, advocacy groups, and other concerned citizens.

  • Trainers can use the videos and adaptable curriculum with a minimum of additional preparation. A field-tested trainers’ package – complete with manual, overheads, textbook, and classroom tips – makes it easy to train mandated professionals, child protective/child welfare staff, and those with no previous training in recognizing and reporting child abuse.

  • Parents who fear that their child may have been abused, who have themselves been reported for child abuse, or those who fear losing control in disciplining a child – will find guidance in the textbook, both in its general materials about child abuse and the special section, “A Word to Parents.”

"Very organized seminar. This was informative and helped me to better understand the reporting process. More videoconferences would be good learning tools and educational for our community. The more information made available to the public, the greater the awareness will be for our county."


Douglas J. Besharov is a professor at the Maryland School of Public Affairs, director of its Welfare Reform Academy, and a child welfare attorney. In the 1970s, he was the first director of the United States National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. Professor Besharov, who has conducted training on this and related subjects before professional and community groups for almost thirty years, provides a thoughtful and thorough introduction to the legal, psychological, social, and physical aspects of child abuse and neglect.

Professor Besharov is the editor of Family Violence: Research and Public Policy Issues and When Drug Addicts Have Children. He co-authored The Maltreated Child: The Maltreatment Syndrome in Children, A Medical, Legal and Social Guide; and Rethinking WIC: An Evaluation of the Women, Infants, and Children Program. He is the author of the textbook, Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned and Recognizing Child Abuse: The Trainer's Manual.

To supplement Professor Besharov’s overviews in the six-videotape training series, a panel of experts and practitioners from different professions — psychologists, social workers, physicians, researchers, and others — provides a variety of perspectives on each topic.


The textbook for the videoconferences is Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned (The Free Press, 1990), written by the trainer, Douglas J. Besharov.

"The 270-page textbook is authoritative and practical. A nuts-and-bolts manual for people who must make life and death decisions. . . . extraordinarily useful. . . .” says Mark G. Battle, Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers

The textbook contains all print material needed for the course. It is strongly recommended as a companion to the videotapes and is required for anyone planning to register to receive CEU Certificates (Note: The cost of the textbook is priced into the first CEU certificate.)

Cost: $14.95 each. Discounts are available for orders of multiple copies from the Welfare Reform Academy.

Buy the textbook from (prices may vary by vendor):

Welfare Reform Academy (discounts for multiple orders)
Barnes & Noble

Note: For a single copy of the textbook, we recommend ordering through amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Discounts for multiple orders are available from the Welfare Reform Academy.

“Professor Besharov did a wonderful job. Logical presentation and development of issues. . . .”

Resources for Trainers

Recognizing Child Abuse: The Trainer’s Manual, by Douglas J. Besharov, is an invaluable resource for those who teach child-serving professionals how to recognize and report all forms of child abuse and neglect. Packaged with the manual are 87 overheads, and a copy of the textbook. Each of the twenty-one self-contained training modules addresses a particular topic, beginning with a "train-the-trainer" segment.

The training curriculum has everything needed to conduct your own training sessions on recognizing and reporting child abuse. Drawing on the videotape programs, the manual, the overheads, and the textbook (Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned), trainers can design their own presentations that include just one topic, a combination of topics, or all of the six topics. The adaptable materials accommodate training sessions that are as short as three hours, two hours, or even one hour. Cost for the package: $140.00.

Buy the manual from (prices may vary by vendor):

Welfare Reform Academy
Barnes & Noble

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    To Order

    Here's how to order the training materials on recognizing and reporting child abuse — the videotapes, the textbook, and the training curriculum — and sign up for CEU credit. Print out our order form or call (202) 862-7160.

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    Other questions? Contact the Welfare Reform Academy.

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