MCMSPhysicianSpring2017 - 18

mon t m e d s o c .c om

You Can Make A Difference
BY VALERIE ARKOOSH, MD, MPH
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMISSIONER

I

'm sure that each of you, just as
I did, completed the mandatory
two hour continuing medical
education (CME) training on
detecting and reporting child abuse.
With that training behind us for
this licensure cycle, I would like to
take this opportunity to focus on our
community's most vulnerable citizens, our children, and our
role in protecting them.

First Let's Take a Look at the Numbers.
According to the National Children's Alliance, an
estimated 683,000 children were victims of abuse and
neglect in 2015. Locally, in 2015, 4,321 children were
reported as victims of child abuse and neglect to ChildLine
and our own Office of Children & Youth.

What is Child Abuse?
Pennsylvania's definition of child abuse has changed
as a result of recent amendments to our Child Protective
Services Law. Effective Dec. 31, 2014, the expanded
definition of child abuse includes intentionally, knowingly
or recklessly causing any of the following to a child: bodily
injury; mental injury; sexual abuse or exploitation; serious
physical neglect; fabricating, inducing or exaggerating a
child's illness; creating a likelihood of bodily injury or sexual
abuse; actual acts even in the absence of injury including
kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing or cutting a
child in a manner that endangers the child; unreasonably
restraining or confining a child; forcefully shaking, slapping
or striking a child under one year of age; interfering with
the breathing of a child; causing a child to be present at a
location where a methamphetamine laboratory is operating;
leaving a child unsupervised with an individual, other
than the child's parent, who is required to register as a
sexual offender, sexually violent predator or sexually violent
delinquent child; or causing the death of the child through
any act or failure to act.

What is Child Neglect?
The failure of a parent or other person with responsibility
for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter,
medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child's
health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.

How Can You Help?
Child abuse prevention is our single best hope in the fight
against child abuse and neglect. Children in the first year of
life consistently have the highest rate of victimization, but
this does not need to be the case. Our community is rich in
resources specifically designed to engage and support infants,
children and families. The Maternal and Early Childhood
Consortium was formed in Montgomery County for just this
purpose: to increase awareness of available evidence-based
home visiting programs for families, pregnant women and
children up to age three. These programs have been shown
to increase parental confidence and competence and decrease
child maltreatment, along with numerous other positive
results. For information on these programs, please visit www.
montcopa.org/investinginfamilies.
Additionally, supportive services for family circumstances
involving older children are available. Services such as
Family Group Decision Making, High Fidelity Wrap
Around, or Multi-Systemic Therapy may be a solution and
can be accessed when appropriate through the Office of
Children & Youth screening process by calling (610) 2785800.

Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect,
Act Immediately
ChildLine is Pennsylvania's electronic portal for
reporting suspicions of child abuse and neglect. You can
file an electronic report at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis
or call 1-800-932-0313 if you cannot report electronically.
ChildLine operates seven days/week, 24 hours/day to
receive reports of suspected child abuse and neglect and
dispatch appropriate authorities. Once a report is received by
ChildLine, they quickly determine which of Pennsylvania's
67 counties must respond and whether the response should
be from Law Enforcement, Children & Youth, or a joint
multi-disciplinary response. Factors including the nature of
the report, child's age, level of vulnerability, and risk level
dictate the timeframe for response. When appropriate, a child
is seen by a trained child welfare professional to assess the
child's safety and to directly provide or coordinate supports
for the child and family. Child welfare caseworkers have the
responsibility for ensuring the safety of not only the reported
child, but of every child in the household.
Thank you for all that you do to keep our children safe.
I can be reached at val@montcopa.org with any questions,
comments, or if you need more information.

M C M S P H Y S I C I A N 18 S P R I N G 2 0 1 7


https://www.montmedsoc.com/Pages/Home.aspx http://www.montcopa.org/investinginfamilies http://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis

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