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Int J Paediatr Dent. 1999 Sep;9(3):153-9.

Child protection: a survey of experience and knowledge within the dental profession of New South Wales, Australia.

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Department of Paediatric Dentistry, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital Dental Clinical School, Australia.



To establish the experience and knowledge of dental practitioners in New South Wales, Australia in the area of child abuse and protection.


A cross-sectional telephone questionnaire.


One hundred and twenty-two interviews; 67 general dental practitioners randomly selected and 55 members of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry.


All of the dentists interviewed could identify physical abuse and most identified emotional abuse, however, none could describe all five forms of abuse. Significantly more (58%) members of the paediatric dental society had at some time suspected abuse, compared with only 24% of the general practitioners. However, only 20 of the paediatric dentists and seven general practitioners had actually reported any cases. The main reason given for not reporting concerned confidentiality. Seventy-two per cent of general practitioners did not know their legal obligations or with whom they could discuss any concerns. While paediatric dentists achieved a better percentage, still over half of them were similarly unsure.


Further education and training is required for both the dental profession and the child protection agencies to improve the inter-agency working relationship and thus provide better protection for children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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