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Legislation Aimed at Training Doctors to Better Identify Child Abuse Introduced in House and Senate

  • Nearly 1 in 3 abused children has been seen previously by a medical provider with an injury that was not recognized as abuse.

  • These injuries, known as “sentinel injuries”, are often minor – an isolated bruise or a small lesion to the mouth, for example.

  • Because they often appear so seemingly minor, however, these sentinel injuries may not be recognized as abuse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports the Early Detection to Stop Infant Abuse and Prevent Fatalities Act.

The Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a demonstration program to award grants to eligible entities to support efforts to:

  • develop, implement or expand training and best practices to assist medical professionals in identifying, assessing, and responding to injuries indicative of potential abuse in infants

  • develop protocols and policies that improve communication and coordination between mandatory reporters and child protective services; and

  • raise awareness regarding the significance and identification of such injuries among health professionals, professionals caring for children, child protective services staff and the public. The Act includes requirements that all applicants evaluate and assess their projects for efficacy, and that HHS report to Congress on the strengths and opportunities of funded programs. It authorizes $10,000,000 over three years for the program.

This legislation will help improve early identification efforts to ensure infants receive the needed attention to keep them safe and place them on a trajectory to thrive.

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