Too often medical professionals and service agencies do not report child abuse and neglect to authorities for a multitude of reasons. The State of Oregon has been very progressive, though, in identifying areas of concern and steps that need to be taken to address this enormous problem.
An article from The Oregonian cited a study from the year 2000 that found that 53% of doctors do not report all cases of abuse.1 In a study from Sweden, Borres and Hägg examined physicians’ responses to vignettes of cases of child abuse and neglect. Results from this study showed that two thirds of the physicians suspected abuse after reading vignettes but did not report it.
Lazenbatt and Freeman (2006) found that respondent’s general fears in regards to reporting child abuse were: the fear of misidentification, an unwillingness to confront a family about abuse, a lack of clear guidelines and protocols for reporting, workload pressures, and a lack of sensitivity and support from social services and colleagues.3
In a 2006 survey of licensed physicians from Kentucky, views and experiences relevant to child abuse and neglect were examined. It was found that when asked, physicians report most often that there is no standard office protocol used in their practice to identify and/or report child abuse and neglect (35.5%).4
2 Borres, M.P., & Hägg, A. (2007). Child abuse study among Swedish physicians and medical students. Pediatrics International, 49(2), 177-182.
3 Lazenbatt, A., & Freeman, R. (2006). Recognizing and reporting child physical abuse: A survey of primary healthcare professionals. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 56(3), 227-236.
4 Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Community Based Services, and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. (2007). Child abuse recognition education: Surveys of physicians and DCBS staff.