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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 36-38
Role of dentists in child maltreatment: An overview


Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Web Publication3-Mar-2016
 

How to cite this article:
Logeswari J. Role of dentists in child maltreatment: An overview. J Educ Ethics Dent 2015;5:36-8

How to cite this URL:
Logeswari J. Role of dentists in child maltreatment: An overview. J Educ Ethics Dent [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Sep 21];5:36-8. Available from: http://www.jeed.in/text.asp?2015/5/1/36/178036


Child maltreatment is a widely adopted terminology to refer to both child abuse and neglect. Child abuse is a leading social as well as health problem that ensues enormous physical, emotional, and psychosocial consequences. On the other hand, child neglect refers to the failure to meet any aspect that affects a child's health and development. Recent evidences allow us to suspect a correlation between dental neglect and general neglect.

Among the listed health care professionals, dentists are at the forefront to detect and treat "child abuse and neglect." Furthermore, most of the injuries involve the head and the neck region. Many times, dentists and other health care professionals as well fail to report such events, where heterogeneous reason holds a major barrier in reporting. The reasons include ignorance of problem, inadequate knowledge in identifying, fear of dealing with law, and finally, the fear of losing patients in a private setup. Merely, dentists are mandated by law to report any suspicion of "child abuse and neglect," and can be held legally responsible for failure to report.

Thus, this journal review intends to assess the knowledge and attitude among dentists in detecting, reporting, and finally treating child abuse and neglect from different parts of the world.

Child abuse and its detection in the dental office.

Rani Somani, Vinita Kushwaha, Dilip Kumar, Jaskirat Khaira. Journal Indian Academy Forensic Med. 2011;33(4);361-365.

In this review article, authors discussed the prevalence, risk factors, different forms of child maltreatment, and child abuse including "munchausen syndrome by proxy." Detecting child abuse in dental offices was elaborated. It was considered that suspecting child abuse begins with proper history taking, because detailed history is an important source for legal proceedings. Various types of typical oral injuries such as oral mucosal tear from gingival, previously missing teeth, trauma to soft tissues such as lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, and fractures of associated jaws were described. Further correlated, where injuries are in the scope of dentistry and insisted the uniqueness of the dentist in suspecting child abuse.

The authors finally reinforce the involvement of dentists in child protection teams, and attained more consciousness in detecting and treating "child abuse and maltreatment." Besides, being part of child protection teams, dentists can, in addition, aid non-dental practitioners, physicians, and other health care professionals in suspecting and evaluating "child abuse and neglect."

Combating child abuse: The role of a dentist.

Shivani Mathur, Rahul Chopra. Oral health and preventive dentistry. 2013;11(3);243-250.

In the current article, the authors take aim to review the overall scenario of child abuse in India and to additionally analyze the role played by dentists in identifying and reporting. They claim socioeconomic transitions have played an intense role for the raise in vulnerability of children to newer forms of child abuse. This article recited a variety of reasons for not reporting and recording child abuse. All possible indicators to differentiate accidental from non-accidental trauma were mentioned.

The role of Prevent abuse and neglect through dental awareness (PANDA) preferred program involving dentists in the country was elaborated. Members involved includes the state dental director, delta dental plan, the state dental association, the social services agency, the state dental hygiene association, the state pediatric dental association, and dental schools. This council has equipped thousands of non-dental professionals in detecting and reporting "child abuse and neglect."

Authors concluded by insisting the importance of the dentist's participation in creating community awareness about child abuse. Additionally mandated, that it is both ethical and moral duty to report "child abuse and neglect" cases to legal authorities.

Child abuse and neglect: Dental and Dental hygiene students' educational experience and knowledge.

John E. Thomas, B.A.; Lloyd Straffon, D.D.S., M.S.; Marita Rohr Inglehart, Dr.phil.habil. Journal of dental education.2006;70(5):558-565.

The author's main objective of the current study was to explore and assess the knowledge and experience about "child abuse and neglect" in dental and dental hygiene students. A total of 233 students participated in this study answering a questionnaire. The questions aimed at three main contents; the first was to determine the types of educational experiences of dental and dental hygiene students. The second aim was to assess the ability of students to demonstrate their knowledge to detect and act appropriately in patients. The final aim was to assess the students' awareness about their legal responsibilities and about penalty as well for not reporting. The questionnaires were assessed. The results obtained were tabulated and statistical analyses were made.

The statistical significance evidenced that there has been lack of knowledge in detecting "child abuse and neglect." Awareness about legal responsibilities was additionally deficient, and only less than half of the students were aware of the legal ramification for failure to report both child abuse and neglect. The limited teaching exposure in a class room setup does not prepare dental and dental hygiene students adequately. The article concluded by suggesting curricular modifications that can offer finer knowledge and experience in students, to detect and report "child abuse and neglect."

Crotian dental students' educational experiences and knowledge in regard to child abuse and neglect.

Ante Jordan; Richard R. Welbury, B.D.S.,M.B.B.S.,Ph.D.,F.D.S.R.C.S.,F.R.C.P.C.H. Mirjana Kujundzic Tiljak, M.D.,M.S.,Ph.D.;Ivana Cukovic-Bagic, D.M.D.,M.S.,Ph.D. Journal of dental education. 2012;76(11);1512-1518.

In the current article, the author's aim was to analyze the education, experience, and knowledge of Croatian dental students in identifying "child abuse and neglect." The study included 544 dental students from the School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb. Out of which only 74.9% responded to the questionnaires prepared to validate their knowledge related to "child abuse and neglect." The results were obtained and data were tabulated.

The respondent's knowledge in describing "child abuse and neglect" was based on the year of study. Statistical analysis demonstrated that the senior students had significantly better knowledge compared to junior teaching. The list of courses followed in the curriculum of different years of dental students on "child abuse and neglect" were tabulated. The table evidenced that the junior teaching students were prescribed topics of "child abuse and neglect" only as an optional course with limited number of teaching hours. Thus, the probable reason for less knowledge would be because of the lack of detailed exposure to these topics.

The authors recommend, considering lectures on child "abuse and neglect" as a compulsory course rather than an elective one. Detailed workshops exclusively dealing with current topics should be mandated in the curriculum before students get exposure to clinical postings.

The dental practitioner and child protection in Scotland.

A.M. Cairns, J.Y.Q. Mok and R.R. Welbury. British dental journal. 2005;199(8);517-520.

The author's aim was to identify the ability of general dental practitioners including undergraduate and postgraduate dentists of Scotland, in identifying child abuse and their knowledge in child protection protocols. The postal questionnaires were prepared with the earlier described objective and sent to dentists in Scotland. Out of which only 61% responded. With the results statistical analyses were made. It was observed that only 10% of the dentists had received child protection training in the local area, out of which only 5% had subsequently received further training from them.

In addition, it was stated that child care protection guidelines are not specific for dentists, rather a general guideline given for other health care professionals are followed by dentists. It was evidenced that a significant number of dentist who had suspected the child abuse are the ones who were involved in postgraduate training. They stated as well that they are comfortable in sharing their experience with their colleague rather reporting it directly to the police or social services. Reasons listed for not reporting includes impact on practice and fear of litigation.

The authors concluded that the lack of training and clear guidelines in Scotland could be the possible event for nonreporting. Additionally, they recommend the distribution of booklets describing precise guidelines along with names of contact persons in health and social services. Frequent coordination of training programs for dentists as well as other health care professionals would be beneficial.

Safeguarding children in dentistry: Do pediatric dentists neglect child dental neglect?

J.C.Harris, C.Elcock, P.D. Sidebotham and R.R.Welbury. British dental journal.2009;206(9): 465-469.

The author's intention was to investigate if a child's dental neglect is neglected by the pediatric dentist in the UK state. The objective of the study conducted was to understand their awareness, experience, and management of dental neglect. The study analyzed the respondents to the prepared questionnaires with an earlier mentioned objective. Out of 789 British society of pediatric dentist dental council members, 499 dentists responded to the questionnaires. The responded dentists' data were statically assessed.

The results highlight that pediatric dentists do not neglect the dental neglect of the children in the state. A frequent association between dental and general neglect have been identified and found to affect a child's social and emotional well-being significantly. The authors solicited further researches, to affirm a relation between dental neglect and general neglect. Additionally, they have recommended multidisciplinary communication to be considered to ensure child welfare.

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Correspondence Address:
J Logeswari
Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Alapakkam Main Road, Maduravoyal, Chennai - 600 095, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-7761.178036

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