Child Abuse: Knowledge and Attitude of the Dentist. Legal Framework and Review of the Literature

2020 • Volume 14 • Issue 2

Carla Cifuentes Harris; Claudia Contreras Reyes; María Angélica Torres & Sebastián Gonzales Alegría



Abuse and neglect of children constitutes a social phenomenon that unfortunately is spread throughout the world without ethnic, geographical or social context barriers. In Chile, until 2012, 71 % of children suffered some type of abuse within their family. Skull-facial and neck injuries occur in more than half of the cases. The Dentist has a legal, moral and ethical obligation as a citizen and health professional to notify the authorities of suspected cases of abuse. The objective of the study was to evaluate the extent of the dental surgeons´ knowledge regarding child abuse and their attitude towards the detection and reporting of child abuse. Bibliographic search in PUBMED using keywords: “child abuse” and “dentistry”. In the study, 132 articles were found, of which 15 were full text. Studies in several countries reported the difficulties of dentists in the diagnosis, documentation and reporting of cases of suspected abuse to the authorities, in addition to the need for further training in the subject. Given the importance of this issue, the role of the dentist working directly with children and adolescents, and the increase in the reporting of suspected cases of violence, it is strongly suggested to monitor the knowledge and attitudes among dentists in Chile.

KEY WORDS: child abuse, dentistry, legal aspects.


How to cite this article

CIFUENTES, H. C.; CONTRERAS, R. C.; TORRES, M. A. & GONZALES, A. S. Child abuse: Knowledge and attitude of the dentist, legal framework and review of the literature. Int. J. Odontostomat., 14(2):160-166, 2020.


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