Under the leadership of Professor Douglas J. Besharov, first
director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the University
of Marylandís Welfare Reform Academy offers a comprehensive set of training
materials on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.
Liability for failing to report
Reportable parental disabilities
Interviewing parents/Preserving evidence
Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned
This easy-to-read textbook is a guide for child-serving professionals—including
teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, day care workers, and police—as
well as laypersons and concerned parents. With numerous charts, illustrations,
and checklists, it describes the legal framework for reporting child abuse,
and gives concrete advice about deciding to report and the reporting process.
The book also contains a special section designed to help parents recognize
if their child is being abused, as well as advice for parents who have been
Designed to be used with the textbook, the trainerís package
includes a 336-page trainerís manual, 87 color transparencies (overheads),
and a copy of the textbook Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned. A PowerPoint version of the overheads is available on request.
The trainerís manual is written in simple, concise language,
and follows the structure of the textbook, so that the two can be used together.
Divided into self-contained training modules that address specific forms of
child maltreatment, the manual contains extensive trainerís notes, discussion
questions, and group exercises.
The entire curriculum is also available in six, high-quality
videos. Each three-hour video is comprised of a 90-minute lecture by Professor
Besharov, followed by a panel discussion with national experts.
A six-hour introductory video that covers all aspects of
recognizing and reporting child abuse is also available, and can be used alone
or as an introduction to the comprehensive training program.
The University of Maryland offers continuing education units to individuals as well as professional trainers. Learn more about how to obtain or award CEUs on our website.
Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect:
The Need for Better Reporting
In recent years, major progress has been made in combating child abuse. Between
1963 and 1999, the number of children reported as suspected victims of child
abuse and neglect rose from about 150,000 children to more than 3 million children,
a 20-fold increase. Although some of this increase reflects an increase in the
amount of child maltreatment in our society, most experts believe that the vast
bulk of additional reports is the result of better identification on the part
of professionals and laypersons.
As a result, many thousands of children have been saved from death and serious
injury. The best estimate is that child abuse and neglect deaths fell from over
3,000 a year (and perhaps as many as 5,000) in the late 1960s to about 1,200
a year in the late 1990s.
Yet, many children continue to fall through the cracks. According to federal
government studies, professionals such as physicians, teachers, and day care
personnel still fail to report large numbers of the maltreated children they
Simply generating more and more reports, however, is not the answer. In recent
years, the problem of nonreporting has been compounded by the problem of inappropriate
reporting. In 1998, about 65 percent of all reports were labeled "unfounded"
after being investigated. (This is in sharp contrast to 1975, when the comparable
figure was about 35 percent.) Although rules, procedures, and even terminology
vary (some states use the phrase "unfounded", others "unsubstantiated"
or "not indicated"), in essence, an "unfounded" report is
one that is dismissed after an investigation finds insufficient evidence upon
which to proceed.
Some professionals defend the high level of unfounded reports as the necessary
price for identifying endangered children. However, the determination that a
report is unfounded can be made only after what is often a traumatic investigation
and, inherently, a breach of parental and family privacy. Besides being unfair
to the children and parents involved, inappropriate reporting places an unnecessary
burden on already overwhelmed child protective agencies--and threatens to undermine
public support for their efforts. For example, over 40 percent of the child
abuse deaths between 1995 and 1997 involved children previously known to the
authorities. Tens of thousands of other children suffer serious injuries short
of death while under child protective agency supervision.
Better--and more accurate--reporting depends on continuing public and professional
education efforts. Child-serving professionals--including teachers, doctors,
nurses, social workers, day care workers, police, and others--need to be much
better informed about what to report, and what not to report. That is why I
developed the materials in Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse. This curriculum
was designed to be easy to use and to help both professionals and laypersons
recognize and report all forms of suspected child maltreatment.
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