Much progress has been made in the past fifty years to identify and prevent child abuse. Last week the Journal of the American Medical Association updated its 1962 original publication which introduced the Battered Child Syndrome. This ground breaking study broadened the term “child abuse” to include “child maltreatment,” encouraged the development of child protective services agencies, and changed the way physicians cared for children with injuries.
“We’re learning what really is reasonable from a certain event, and what is not a reasonable injury from a certain event. And we’re doing our best to disseminate that information to the people on the front lines who are making those judgments,” Melissa Currie, MD says. Dr. Currie is the medical director of Pediatric Forensic Medicine at the University of Louisville and is only one of two physicians in Kentucky specializing in child abuse.
Dr. Currie suggests caregivers and teachers learn the TEN: 4 Rule to identifying child abuse. Any bruise on the Torso, Ears, or Neck on a child under the age of four, or any bruise anywhere on a child four months or younger, should be reported to a child protective services agency.
“Calling CPS (child protective services) because you have a concern is not the same as saying you’re certain a child is being abused. If you’re waiting until you’re certain, you’re waiting too long,” Dr. Currie says.
Progress has been made in the medical field of child abuse. Child abuse is now a board certified medical specialty and medical schools across the country have added child abuse education to their curriculum. But more work needs to be done. Dr. Currie hopes more physicians will join the field, and more funding will go towards child abuse prevention.