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Kentucky: what effect does legislation have on child abuse fatalities?

Does legislation have a tangible effect on the rate of child maltreatment fatalities? A group of Kentucky investigators reviewed the data to seek answers to this question. Their conclusions appear in the June 2017 issue of Current Trauma Reports. 

The investigators conducted a review focused on Kentucky’s multidisciplinary legislative efforts to decrease the incidence of child maltreatment, including fatalities and near-fatalities. Such efforts have encompassed primary and secondary prevention modalities, including early support to parents, training, and education about recognition and reporting of child maltreatment for professionals who interact with children, review of all child deaths, and multidisciplinary in-depth case review of the most serious child maltreatment cases.

They found that although reliable trends can be difficult to determine based upon the complexity of the problem and multiple confounding variables, there are a number of indicators that suggest these cumulative efforts are beginning to have a favorable impact on the most serious child maltreatment cases, although heightened awareness has likely contributed to an increase in the total number of reported cases.

The investigators conclude that collaborative efforts including governmental, academic, and non-profit entities may affect meaningful change in legislation and other interventions to decrease the incidence of the most serious cases of child maltreatment.

Susan-Pollack.pngAuthors of the report include University of Kentucky College of Public Health faculty Dr. Julia F. Costich, professor of Health Management and Policy and associate director of the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, and Dr. Susan H. Pollack, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health and principal investigator in the KIPRC Pediatric and Adolescent Injury Prevention Program. KIPRC is a bona fide state agency housed in the UK College of Public Health.