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Pediatricians differ in their opinion of child abuse

Doctors examining the children of suspected child abuse tend to differ widely in their judgment of what// constitutes child abuse. A research reported by the researchers of Penn State College of Medicine say that there exist severe contradictions among the doctors themselves regarding their opinion of whether the child had been abused or not.

Conducting the first systematic examination of how the pediatricians report child abuse, the researchers for the study feel that medical professionals differ widely in their opinion about what constitutes "reasonable suspicion" that child abuse had taken place and this criteria is often subjective.

Researchers point out that in spite of variations in the age, training and years of experience, physicians have given inconsistent opinions on the twin scales used, showing that there is a lack of framework existing to help the physicians for reference in quantifying what constitutes child abuse. The concept of "reasonable suspicion" itself tends to a wide range of meanings for the pediatricians who had answered the questionnaires.

Researchers feel that for the subject as sensitive as child abuse, the existing confusion amidst the medical professionals as to the parameters of child abuse can lead to a lot of child abusers go free from being punished.

Reference: Pediatrics, July 2005

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