Child maltreatment can result in direct physical, behavioral, social and emotional harm and disability that is a risk factor for a range of other health risks that contribute to chronic health problems” (Leeb, et. al., 2008). Since the new public health focuses on heath promotion and the prevention of disease, injury, and disability, the public focus should prevent child maltreatment before it occurs and at the very least, intervene when child maltreatment occurs. This will work best by using a public health model (HHS CDC, 2001).
A national study of questioning knowledge of the public was done in 1985 by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse to determine estimates of cases of sexual abuse. Ten years later in September, 1995, STOP IT NOW! a public health approach, was utilized in Vermont and provided education through telephone surveys about child sexual abuse, and it also promoted reporting, and referred perpetrators to treatment programs (HHS CDC, 2001).
Studies such as these are an important public health strategy because they educate the public about an issue. These studies provide a credible basis for a new paradigm of practice that evaluates medical patients at the onset of care. Actualizing that shift begins with how messages are framed. If one can turn the other toward a new horizon of a mutual understanding through Authentic Discourse, one can have a productive agreement of using proven public health prevention strategies and advocating their use for protecting vulnerable children. Awareness campaigns about drinking and driving, HIV/AIDS, and smoking have all had success in reducing deaths caused by these problems. Prevention programs for child maltreatment may also be as effective with public service messages that emphasize responsibility of the community of adults for prevention.
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