A brief history of fatal child maltreatment and neglect

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Abstract

Child abuse encompasses four major forms of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. The United States retains one of the worst records of child abuse in the industrialized world. It has also been determined that a large portion of these cases are missed and go undocumented in state and federal reporting agencies. In addition, disparate risk factors have been identified for physical abuse and neglect cases, but substance abuse has been found to be a significant factor in all forms of abuse. Fatal child maltreatment and neglect investigations require a multi-pronged and multidisciplinary approach requiring the coordination and information gathering from various agencies. A major difficulty in determining the accidental or non-accidental nature of these cases is that the account surrounding the events of the death of child is acquired from the caretaker. In this review, we outline common diagnostic characteristics and patterns of non-accidental injuries and neglect as a result of nutritional deprivation.