Professional Responsibilities in Protecting Children: A Public Health Approach to Child Sexual Abuse

Professional Responsibilities in Protecting Children: A Public Health Approach to Child Sexual Abuse

Professional Responsibilities in Protecting Children: A Public Health Approach to Child Sexual Abuse

Professional Responsibilities in Protecting Children: A Public Health Approach to Child Sexual Abuse

Synopsis

This rich collection opens with an overview concerning the professional reporting of child abuse and neglect. Subsequent chapters discuss issues in the failure to report child abuse, the regulation of professional misconduct, the role of professional organizations in protecting the child, sexual abuse in child care, lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings, and strategies for organizations in the protection of children. The editors conclude with an insightful summary and analysis of regulatory agencies. "A brave, harsh, well-researched, well-reasoned, and well-written book. . . . If you happen to have only 15 minutes that you can allot to reading this book, go directly to the last two chapters by Susan Wells. Unless you have the sensitivity of a cucumber or the vertebrae of the jellyfish, your medical practice will never be the same again." American Journal of Psychiatry

Excerpt

Child sexual abuse is a topic that arouses strong feelings. It has captured the attention of the media, especially the visual media; the public has been exposed to a number of films, television documentaries, and dramas highlighting the harmful consequences of child sexual abuse. Health professionals, childcare workers, teachers, and clergymen, who have a stake in preventing such abuse (as well as other forms of maltreatment) or in treating or otherwise caring for its victims and their families, and lawyers involved in criminal or civil procedures resulting from allegations of child sexual abuse, have a very special interest in this topic. These are the people who will find this book a very valuable addition to their libraries.

The statistics of child sexual abuse are frightening: more than 100,000 cases per year are now officially reported. Public health statistics are usually presented as incidence figures, as the frequency per 100,000 per year. For example, the suicide rate in the United States is approximately 12 per 100,000 per year. Extrapolating from the estimates of child sexual abuse, one comes up with approximately 159 officially reported cases per year per 100,000 children. Though the incidence of reported child sexual abuse is rising rapidly each year, many more times that number go unreported. The reasons for the failure to report are discussed in great detail in a number of chapters.

Part I, which deals with the issues in the failure to report child sexual abuse, is very useful for physicians and mental health professionals. There are difficulties in making this judgment, and professionals often have conflicting feelings about when to report to the proper authorities or agencies; these issues are dealt with forthrightly. Underreporting of white affluent families does occur; the authors scrutinize this among other social and cultural factors in the reporting process. A key issue is the need through careful outcome studies "to demonstrate the benefits of reporting and the intervention it precipitates in contrast to intervention not accompanied by reporting. Part and parcel of this is a demonstration of the iatrogenic conse-

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