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The Failure to Report Child Abuse

Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(4):329-330. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140180063022.
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Sir.—The article by Saulsbury and Campbell1 on reporting child abuse states that they found "no relationship between medical specialty and the physician's inclination to report any category of abuse and neglect." Physician in this context meant pediatricians, family practitioners, and emergency medicine physicians.

Morris et al2 demonstrated that, when dealing with hypothetical child abuse problems, pediatricians were more sensitive to child abuse issues than family physicians, and since it is reasonable to assume that pediatricians, by virtue of training, have greater awareness, knowledge, and experience with child abuse than physicians from the other disciplines referred to, it follows that the failure of pediatricians to report must indicate a highly important aspect of their professional behavior that needs to be explained.

One possible but shameful conclusion is that pediatricians are just as likely as anyone else to allow personal bias and value judgments to intervene in deciding the


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