Child protection training, experience, and personal views of dentists in the prefecture of Attica, Greece

Laud, A., Gizani, S., Maragkou, S., Welbury, Richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9322-2440 and Papagiannoulis, L. (2013) Child protection training, experience, and personal views of dentists in the prefecture of Attica, Greece. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 23 (1). pp. 64-71. ISSN 0960-7439

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The abuse and neglect of children constitutes a social phenomenon that unfortunately is widespread irrespective of geographic, ethnic, or social background. Dentists may be the first health professionals to recognize signs of child maltreatment (CM) and have an important role in dealing with such incidents.

To describe the training, experience, and personal views of dentists practicing in the Prefecture of Attica regarding the recognition and referral of abused and neglected children.

A random sample was drawn from a target population of dentists registered with two of the largest dental associations in Greece. The dental practitioners were interviewed by two paediatric dentists using a specially designed questionnaire. Information was collected regarding their awareness on child maltreatment, the frequency of suspected incidents as well as the reasons for not reporting them.

With a response rate of 83%, findings are reported from 368 interviews (54% male, mean age 43Â years). Only 21% of respondents had received training on child protection at undergraduate level. Suspected abuse was 13% and suspected neglect was 35%. Only six of the 368 respondents made an official report of a suspected case of child maltreatment. The most common reason that might prevent a dentist from reporting a case was doubt over the diagnosis (44%). Ninety-seven per cent of dentists believed that recognition and referral of incidents should be part of undergraduate training.

Dental practitioners did not feel adequately informed on recognizing and referring child abuse and neglect cases. The low percentage of reported incidents and the lack of legislation indicate a great need for continuously educating dentists on child maltreatment as well as for setting up an organized system in Greece for reporting such incidents to protect the dentist referring the case as well as the child being victimized.

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