Child maltreatment is a complex life experience occurs when a parent or caregiver
does an intentional or potential damage to a child, including acts of commission and
Child abuse is not an uncommon event, but it is not always recognized. Identifying the real
number of maltreated children is a challenge because of the large variability in reported
prevalence data across studies. Unfortunately, in the United States, it affects 1 in 8 children,
by the age of 18 years, annually.
Paediatricians may encounter a variety of forms of maltreatment such as neglect, emotional,
physical and sexual abuse. These aspects should be recognised, examined and
evaluated by employing a systematic approach and focusing on basic needs of children that
may not be met.
Child maltreatment is a global problem with serious life-long physical and psychological
or psychiatric outcomes.
It is associated with important economic and social costs (such as physical and mental
health, productivity losses, child welfare, criminal justice and special education costs) due
to its high prevalence and its long-term and short-term consequences. In the United States,
the average cost of nonfatal maltreatment is $210,012 per children and the cost of fatal
maltreatment is $1,272,900.
General Practitioners are quite prepared to face the problem of child maltreatment: since
they have the opportunity to meet several members of the same family, they can detect
stressors that put children at risk of maltreatment. All health professionals have the responsibility
to protect children from abuse and neglect.