Through early detection and reporting, dentists have the opportunity to prevent further injury or neglect to children suspected of having been maltreated. In instances where a previously abused child is returned to the environment that fostered the abuse, without any intervention (reporting or family therapy), 25% were seriously reinjured and 5% were killed.10 Child maltreatment is a cyclic disease with abused children often becoming abusive parents.12 Between 30 and 60% of abusive parents admit to being abused or neglected as a child.32 Ninety percent of males in prisons were abused as a child with over 50% of violent female criminals admitting to being sexually and/or physically abused as children.12
As reported by the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, “the United States spends billions of dollars on programs that deal with the results of the nation’s failure to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.”33 Dentists have the obligation to assist these children through proper identification, diagnosis, and reporting suspected cases. Early attention is crucial to disrupting the cycle of abuse and neglect. It benefits not only the child but society as well.
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