• March/April 2001
  • Vol. 2, No. 2

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Panel Discusses Reporting Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect

A panel discussed child abuse and neglect from several perspectives during a live national teleconference January 18 sponsored by the Maryland School of Public Affairs. Panel members were David Lloyd, Director of the Pentagon's Family Advocacy Program; Dr. Mimi Kanda, pediatrician and Director of the Office of Population Affiars; and Caren Kaplan, Director of Child Welfare League of America's "Protecting America's Children" Project.

Lloyd discussed the Department of Defense's concerns regarding child abuse and neglect, and mentioned DOD's special programs for new parents, exemplary child care facilities, and public awareness prevention efforts. The DOD is responsible for reporting cases of child abuse that occur on all Federal lands, including national monuments and parks and Federal buildings. In general, the Federal child abuse reporting requirements are greater than those of the States and can include siblings. Reports are made to civilian authorities. Lloyd advised if no action is taken, the reporter should be that child's advocate and report again. In domestic violence situations, military social workers assess both the couple and children. "We can approach it more holistically than in the civilian community," said Lloyd.

Kanda noted than the Office of Population Affairs works to prevent child abuse by assisting families in deciding when to have children and supporting parents through Head Start. As a pediatrician, she encountered many children with concerns about child abuse but found it was difficult to assess those situations. She cautioned that medical personnel should not attempt to "interview" young children, which requires specialized training and could do more harm than good. However, Kaplan said "it is a great source of frustration for the physician not knowing the outcome" and noted a need to promote training and partnerships.

Kaplan explained that the Child Welfare League of America, comprising 1,100 member agencies, serves all children at risk before they come to the attention of the child welfare worker. Like Kanda, she cautioned against further inquiry and advocated "treading lightly" if not skilled. Rather, a reporter should rely on the child protective worker who has the authoritative power and the ability to offer therapeutic services. She also noted that domestic violence and animal cruelty statutes in some States dictate whether or not to report an offense to child protective services.

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