, Volume 172, Issue 2, pp 207-214
Date: 24 Oct 2012

New hospital-based policy for children whose parents present at the ER due to domestic violence, substance abuse and/or a suicide attempt

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Abstract

Child maltreatment is a major social problem with many adverse consequences, and a substantial number of maltreated children are not identified by health care professionals. In 2010, in order to improve the identification of maltreated children in hospitals, a new hospital-based policy was developed in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This policy was adapted from another policy that was developed in The Hague, the Netherlands, in 2007. In the new Amsterdam policy, all adults presenting at the emergency department due to domestic violence, substance abuse, and/or a suicide attempt are asked whether they have any children in their care. If this is the case, parents are urged to visit the outpatient pediatric department together with all of their children. During this visit, problems are evaluated and voluntary referrals can be arranged to different care organizations. If parents refuse to cooperate, their children are reported to the Dutch Child Abuse Counseling and Reporting Centre. The two aims of this study are to describe (1) characteristics of the identified families and (2) the referrals made to different voluntary and involuntary care organizations during the first 2 years after implementation of the policy. Data were collected from medical records. One hundred and six children from 60 households were included, of which 68 children because their mother was a victim of domestic violence. Referrals to care organizations were arranged for 99 children, of which 67 on a voluntary basis. The Amsterdam policy seems successful in arranging voluntary support for the majority of identified children.