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Emergency Medicine

Child Protection Team

Although the State of Maryland has a relatively low rate of child abuse and neglect, approximately 500 children who are suspected to have been abused visit the Pediatric Emergency Department at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center each year.

Looking out for the best interests of these children is an awesome responsibility and often, even treatment and counseling do not go far enough to save a child. To that end, Hopkins Children’s goes far beyond the basic medical services that many hospitals provide to young patients by helping to bring abusers to justice and to educate other healthcare providers.

Hopkins Children’s is nationally regarded as a leading advocate for abused and neglected children in both care and policy. It's Child Protection Team, led today by Mitchell Goldstein, M.D.,is a state authority on child abuse and a vocal advocate for child abuse issues. A multidisciplinary task force – including emergency medicine experts, law enforcement personnel, and, when necessary, child psychiatrists – enables Hopkins Children’s physicians to help an abused or neglected child by easing a child's physical and mental pain.

About Child Abuse and Neglect

Statistics on the prevalence of child abuse vary widely, depending on survey techniques and on the way “abuse” is defined. However, one thing is certain: child abuse and neglect are equal-opportunity destroyers. Abuse and neglect do not know a child’s sex or race, where a child comes from or a child's religion or income-level.

According to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NCCAN), there were 1,048,062 proven cases of child abuse and neglect across the United States 1998, the most recent year for which national data is available. That means about 13 children of every thousand in the United States are reported to be victims of abuse or neglect—a figure that has remained essentially unchanged for a decade.

Maryland has a lower rate of reported child abuse and neglect compared to other states. Still, over 100,000 cases of possible abuse or neglect were reported in 1998, according to statistics provided by the Maryland Department of Human Resources. (This figure represents suspected, rather than proven cases of child abuse). More than 10,000 of those cases were children living Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Despite the staggering number of abuse or neglect cases, Hopkins Children’s stands firm, pledging its support to Maryland communities, no matter the cost, ensuring that every abused and neglected child who comes to Hopkins receives expert medical care and compassionate service.

Pediatric Emergency Department

The Pediatric Emergency Department at Hopkins Children’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Children who are thought to be possible victims of abuse are seen by a team comprised of emergency medicine experts, and when necessary, child psychiatrists. If staff physicians, after asking the child simple questions, suspect abuse has occurred, social workers and law enforcement are involved to determine the appropriate next steps. Throughout the process, a member of the medical staff supervises the child, taking care of his or her every need.

State Task Force

Decades ago, then director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Hopkins Children’s, Allen Walker, M.D., was named by former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening to serve on a task force, The State Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. The committee's main function is to review the process by which children who may have been abused or neglected receive care and ensure that it is the best care possible. Members discusses the care of children and families, trying to understand how the entire system can be improved, and making recommendations as appropriate.

Local Task Force

A group of Hopkins Children’s physicians, social workers and attorneys meet every two weeks with Baltimore City and County social workers, city attorneys and police to discuss and hopefully resolve recent cases of possible child abuse. They addresses legal and medical evidence to determine whether a child has been the target of abuse. Though the group may influence the possibility of bringing alleged abusers to court, the primary goal of the group is to increase communication between agencies that care for victims of abuse and their families, ultimately to improve the lives of the children.

Resources

Please visit the following web sites for information about child abuse issues:


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