Pediatricians frequently confront situations in which they
suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. Abuse can take
many forms - physical, sexual, or psychological. Neglect can be
medical neglect or psychosocial neglect. Laws in all fifty states
require pediatricians to report suspected child abuse to state
child protection agencies, which then investigate the suspicious
cases. While few people disagree about the appropriateness of such
protections for children, there are gray zones in which it is
ambiguous whether or not a child has been abused or neglected.
We will soon have discussions of some of the moral ambiguities
that arise in the diagnosis, reporting, and response to physical
and sexual abuse, as well as neglect.