Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Family Life

Child abuse pediatricians are doctors with special training, experience, and skills in evaluating children who may be victims of some type of abuse or neglect. 

What Kind of Training Do Child Abuse Pediatricians Have?

  • Graduation from college and medical school 
  • Three or four years of residency training in the medical care of children
  • Additional training and experience in child abuse pediatrics
  • Certification by the American Board of Pediatrics and may have additional certification in the subspecialty of child abuse pediatrics

Other kinds of health providers, such as family medicine or emergency physicians and nurse practitioners, may also have expertise in child abuse pediatrics.

Because of their special training and skills, child abuse pediatricians are the doctors most able to help determine if and how a child was injured. When appropriate, child abuse pediatricians actively search for medical problems or other explanations for a child’s symptoms. 

Types of Services Provided by a Child Abuse Pediatrician:

Child abuse pediatricians gather medical history from parents and families, talk to children, examine children, review blood tests, x-rays, and other tests, and may order and review additional tests. Child abuse pediatricians often work within a multidisciplinary team of other physicians, hospital staff, child protective service agency workers, and law enforcement to gather information and make sure that all agencies involved understand the medical concerns about a child. 

In addition, child abuse pediatricians carefully review all of the details about the child and why the concern for abuse exists. The evaluation includes speaking to many professionals involved in the care and protection of your child, such as your child’s primary care doctor, therapist, child protective service worker, and police officer. Child abuse pediatricians evaluate many cases each year, and often, the diagnosis is not abuse. Child abuse pediatricians often testify in court to help a judge and jury understand a child’s medical concerns and injuries and what they mean.  

When Does a Child Abuse Pediatrician Get Involved in a Child’s Care?

Child abuse pediatricians are contacted by medical staff or investigative agencies when a child is a suspected victim of abuse. Child abuse pediatricians may also be asked for help by parents or a child’s primary care doctor. Not all hospitals and communities have a child abuse pediatrician locally. In certain cases, a child abuse pediatrician may evaluate a child’s records to provide an expert opinion if asked by a court, police, child protective services, or lawyers. These requests may occur well after a child’s injury.

Where Can I Find a Child Abuse Pediatrician?

A child and parents may meet a child abuse pediatrician in the hospital or in a child advocacy center (a community agency designed to evaluate child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, or other violence). 

Important Things to Know:

  • Child abuse pediatricians do not decide who has custody of a child or which home the child lives in.
  • Child abuse pediatricians do not arrest people or determine who is “guilty.”
  • Child abuse pediatricians do not decide who is a good or better parent.
 Remember, child abuse pediatricians are partners in making sure your child is safe and healthy.

Additional Information:

 

Last Updated
2/27/2014
Source
Section on Child Abuse and Neglect (Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.