National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect Co-founder Calls for End of Gaze Aversion as Step to End Child Abuse
Denver (Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019) — One of the country’s leading experts on child abuse and neglect believes all of us can help end child abuse by simply not looking away.
Richard Krugman, MD, co-founder and board chair of the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect and professor emeritus at the University of Colorado School of Medicine calls for ending what those in the field know as gaze aversion, or the ignoring of and indifference toward signs of child abuse and neglect. His reflection of the field is published in today’s issue of the medical journal Health Affairs in the Narrative Matters feature.
“We need to make gaze aversion outdated,” said Krugman. “We need to remove the shame and stigma that accompanies the diagnosis of abuse.”
Krugman first heard the term gaze aversion some fifty years ago when he was a medical student and had to review the case of child who had been seen by several doctors who had seemingly done everything they could to look away from what the head of the pediatrics department determined was child abuse.
Now more than five decades later, gaze aversion seems to be as prevalent today as it was in the 1960s. Krugman writes, “the same gaze aversion many of the professionals involved in my 1968 child abuse case seems to be operative today in the rather universal paucity of research on the causes, treatment and impact of all forms of child abuse and neglect of children, adolescents and adults.”
Krugman maintains that gaze aversion will end when:
- Medical practitioners automatically ask patients about abuse and neglect as a child.
- Research dollars go into understanding the role of child abuse on suicide, depression, obesity and other health issues linked to abuse.
- Medical professionals see themselves as more than mandatory reporters but as part of a team that needs to treat and prevent child abuse and neglect in their patients.
- Anyone who sees child abuse opts in and shares the concern with authorities so that the child at risk gets the protection they deserve.
EndCAN seeks to change the way child abuse and neglect is addressed by changing the perception of child abuse and neglect in our country by focusing on the health, mental health and public health issues of abuse. EndCAN helps survivors, thrivers and transcenders of abuse by uniting voices. The Foundation works with others to expand funding for research, training, prevention and advocacy. Learn more at endcan.org.
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