The Administration for Children and Families defines child abuse and neglect as "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver that results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, exploitation, or an act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk for serious harm."
Laws vary from state to state, but in all states, clinicians who suspect abuse or neglect are required by law to file a report with child welfare offices.
The USPSTF compiled a list of factors -- in large part from CDC literature -- associated with child maltreatment, including but not limited to:
-- Young, single, or nonbiological parents
-- Parental history of abuse or neglect in family of origin
-- Family dysfunction or violence
-- Substance abuse within the family
-- Social isolation, poverty, or other socioeconomic disadvantages
-- Parental stress and distress
However, "the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of primary care interventions to prevent child maltreatment," the task force said Monday. The recommendation applies to children (aged newborn to 18 years) who do not have signs or symptoms of maltreatment."
"The bottom line," said task force member and pediatrician Dr. David Grossman, "is that more research is needed on how primary care clinicians can effectively screen and protect all populations, including older and vulnerable adults, middle-aged women, men, and children, from abuse and violence."