Most Child Abuse Goes Unreported; Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy by Father Can Be Unsuspected Source

child abuse

Child Abuse: If you see something, say something

Children in highly developed countries and its major cities like Washington DC suffer abuse and neglect much more often than is reported by official child-protective agencies, according to the findings of the first in a comprehensive series of reports on child maltreatment, published Dec. 2 in the British medical journal The Lancet

Yet there is no completely objective test for the presence of abuse. Identifying victimized children is often a subjective process, and caregivers may be wary of levying false accusations. Self-reports of abuse are frequently flawed and inaccurate as well, says Widom; they often produce the largest estimates of abuse incidence, but their definitions of maltreatment are overly broad. Even when children of abuse are correctly identified, not all caregivers know how to ensure their proper treatment. “There’s no gold standard,” Widom says.

Sometime Munchausen syndrome by the father can be the source of the abuse, and health care workers overlook it because they tend not to suspect a “caring” father.  If a father has Munchausen syndrome or significant somatising disorder, doctors, health visitors, and social workers need to be vigilant for any unusual illness or event involving a child in that home.

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See, Meadow, Munchausen syndrome by proxy abuse perpetrated by men,  Arch Dis Child 1998;78:210–216

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