MALTREATMENT OF CHILDREN, or child abuse, takes many forms. It may be serious gross neglect of the child's welfare to the point of starvation, cruelty resulting in emotional damage to the child, or physical assault by a parent, older sibling, or person charged with the care of the child, as described in the term "battered child syndrome." We do not know the actual number of maltreated children, nor their subdivision into physical and emotional abuse. It is likely that the battered child is the least frequent yet currently the most discussed. This paper will concern itself primarily with the physically abused child.
Recently, the problem of maltreatment of children has received much attention. Perhaps part of the recent public interest in this problem has resulted from the dramatic phrase "battered child syndrome," which was first used by Kempe, et al. during a panel discussion at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
But long before the phrase was coined, interest in the problem of multiple injuries had begun. About 20 years ago Caffey described x-ray findings of multiple fractures in the long bones, and a diagnostic tool was developed. Since then the child with multiple injuries indicating new or recent injuries superimposed on old has come under increasing scrutiny, especially in the last three or four years. Later studies by hospital pediatric and x-ray departments added to the earlier reports of "skeletal trauma in infants" which, in turn, have alerted pediatricians, roentgenologists, and other physicians to the possibility of child abuse.
- Copyright © 1966 by the American Academy of Pediatrics