There are widespread concerns over how the challenges due to the pandemic have impacted children’s overall health and well-being. One of these concerns is related to abuse and neglect of children. Public health emergencies, like the COVID-19 pandemic, increase the risk for child abuse and neglect because of increased stressors and loss of financial and social supports, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control. During a pandemic, there is also a decrease of in-person contact between children and mandated reporters (e.g., teachers, social workers, dentists, and physicians), which means fewer people are keeping an eye on children.
With dental practices back in full swing, the MDS Dental Practice and Benefits Committee encourages members to be even more mindful of signs of abuse and neglect in your pediatric patients. Dentists in Massachusetts are mandated reporters. As a mandated reporter, you are required by law to immediately make a report
to the Department of Children and Families when you have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 is suffering from abuse and/or neglect.