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Child Abuse Prevention


​Pediatricians and pediatric healthcare providers play an important role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.  They can help to strengthen families and promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships with the aim of preventing maltreatment.  In 2010, the AAP and the Council on Child Abuse and Neglect published a policy, The Pediatrician's Role in Child Maltreatment Prevention​ which describes how pediatricians and pediatric healthcare providers can identify family strengths, recognize risk factors, provide helpful guidance, and refer families to programs and other resources with the goal of strengthening families, preventing child maltreatment, and enhancing child development.  To follow are some additional programs and resources to help pediatricians and their communities reach that goal, including resources for Child Abuse Prevention Month.  ​

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April was designated Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. The observance raises awareness about child abuse prevention by educating individuals and communities about how they can help prevent abuse and neglect of children. We each play a part in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in communities.

The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Human Services' Children's Bureau, Office of Child Abuse and Neglect worked with its Child Welfare Information Gateway to develop a community resource guide to promote child abuse prevention activities throughout the year.  The Prevention Resource Guide was designed to support service providers as they work with families to promote child well-being and prevent child maltreatment. It focuses on protective factors that build on family strengths to foster healthy child and youth development. The Resource Guide can be used along with the Protective Factors in Practice scenarios and the activity calendars to implement prevention strategies in your community. 

Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents

Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents is a national health promotion and prevention initiative, led by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Bright Futures Guidelines provide theory-based and evidence-driven guidance for all preventive care screenings and well-child visits.  The new 4th Edition weaves in recognition of social determinants of health (risks and protective factors) and an increased focus on lifelong physical and mental health as well providing support for families.  In addition, a number of developmental, behavioral and psychosocial screening tools are available to identify families at risk for abuse and neglect. 

The 4th Edition is currently available at ShopAAP where you can also preview it in eBook format.

​Connected Kids: Safe, Strong Secure

Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure​ offers child healthcare providers a comprehensive, logical approach to integrating violence prevention efforts in practice and the community. The program takes an​ asset-based approach to anticipatory guidance, focusing on helping parents and families raise resilient children. A clinical guide and 21 brochures addressing topics across the stages of development are available here and the infant and early childhood brochure are available for purchase on ​​​​

​Practicing Safety: A Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Project

The general pediatrician is in a prime position to play a much-expanded role in the primary and secondary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Anticipatory guidance is a regular part of pediatric care providing the context for teaching child abuse and neglect/violence prevention, parenting skills and identifying and supporting vulnerable families. For this reason, the AAP, with the generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, launched the first phase of Practicing Safety in January 2003 and the second phase in 2007 in an effort to decrease child abuse and neglect by enhancing anticipatory guidance and increasing screening provided by pediatric practices to families of children ages 0-3. Visit the Practicing Safety website​ for more information about the project, including patient and practice tools used.

Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention

Disclaimer: The information below is selected for its value and relation to child abuse prevention and does not represent an endorsement or an official opinion or position of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For years the assumption had been that if your baby cried excessively they had "colic," leading parents and caregivers to believe that there was something wrong or abnormal with their baby. However, over 40 years of research on early infant crying has led to the understanding that, in addition to infants with a specific illness, there is an early period of increased and then decreased crying starting at about two weeks and lasting until the third or fourth month of life. This crying is completely normal and unrelated to infants having a disease or physical problem or parents having different care giving styles. This crying is not an indication that there is something wrong with the baby, but rather a normal behavioral developmental stage that all babies have.

Screening in Practices

The Screening in Practices Initiative offers information and resources, including screening recommendations, practice tools, and individualized assistance, to help pediatric health care providers implement effective screening, referral, and follow-up for developmental milestones, maternal depression, and social determinants of health.  "Screening Time: Tuning In to the Needs of Families", a scenario-based online training that will guide you in creating a screening workflow that fits your office is also offered.​​

​​Prevention programs of related organization and government agencies​​​

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