Purpose Child abuse is under-recognized and under-reported. A single case identified by a primary care physician in a rural clinic raised questions about ways to improve identification in a broader setting. A community project was initiated to improve child abuse recognition and reporting in the small community of Belgrade, Montana. Schools were chosen as the primary site of intervention because of the extent of their contact with children on a daily basis.
Methods Information was gathered from the superintendent of schools, public school policy, manuals for teachers, and the state reporting agency. With input from school administrators, a brochure was developed containing: the legal responsibility of professional to report, immunity from liability after reporting, recognition signs, and additional sources of information and support. The brochure was distributed to teachers and school employees throughout the school district.
Summary One way to affect the health of children is to increase recognition and reporting of child abuse through collaboration with other community professionals. The aim of the brochure was to raise awareness of the problem and provide a ready tool to help with the process of reporting. The brochures were distributed to approximately 310 teachers and school employees in the Belgrade school district.
Conclusion An issue so filled with emotion such as child abuse is not easily approached. The problem may best be handled through the cooperative efforts of several different groups of professionals within the community.
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