Many physicians may feel powerless or unsure when it comes to dealing with issues of child maltreatment or child abuse and neglect. According to Philip V. Scribano, DO, MCSE, that’s why it is important for osteopathic physicians to learn more about the evidence-based information regarding child maltreatment.
“Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention” will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Room 204BC, Level 300, Convention Center, with the goal of providing a public health approach to child maltreatment prevention and helping attendees recognize evidence-based prevention strategies.
“When we think of child abuse in general, it usually engenders a powerless response in being able to change anything in reducing the risks and incidents of child maltreatment in the United States,” said Dr. Scribano. “This talk is essentially to provide the learner with a better understanding of what prevention interventions can be employed in the daily office setting, what interventions have been studied and are available in the community, and potential effectiveness in reducing child abuse in our communities.”
Dr. Scribano’s own research has looked at the problem of child maltreatment through a public health lens. He said that it is well known that child abuse and neglect occurs at a much higher rate than what is reported. That is why it is vital for pediatricians, who see children and families every day, to recognize the risks and know what resources are available in the community to mitigate those risks and protect children.
“If you don’t know what’s going on in the home, then you have no chance of intervening. But if you ask certain key questions which we know have certain implications in terms of risk for kids, then you have an opportunity to offer prevention interventions to families,” he said.
For example, intimate partner violence or domestic violence is a strong co-occurring risk factor in families where child maltreatment and domestic violence coexists, he noted. Although an examination of a child might not turn up any physical indicators of abuse or neglect, if you look at the family as a whole and identify intimate partner violence, this places the child at an increased risk for maltreatment.
“The only way to really understand it is by asking. We often don’t ask because we don’t know what to do if they say they are struggling and experiencing intimate partner violence,” said Dr. Scribano.
Dr. Scribano will discuss how to incorporate these types of family assessments within the framework of an already packed office visit by using technology.
“Technology improves efficiency in gathering information, helping the clinician track the issues that might be occurring in homes,” he said.
He will also share research looking at enhanced primary care, or having screening practices in place and being more social minded in your practice. One successful enhancement he’ll outline is the home visit.
“Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program is a federal infrastructure to support expansion of home visiting. These programs are a lifeline for many families to help them through the issues that they are struggling with, usually related to poverty,” he said.
He also plans to discuss enhanced parent training interventions and the more traditional targeted maltreatment prevention interventions.
“For example in sexual abuse prevention, we have some good evidence that the efforts that have been made over the last 20 years have made a difference in reducing sexual abuse victimization in children,” he said. “However, we still have some challenge with targeted interventions to address the most severe form of child abuse – abusive head trauma.”