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May 23, 1986

Child mistreatment remains an ugly problem

Author Affiliations

1985-1986 Morris Fishbein Fellow

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2723-2724. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200021005

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There may be cause for cautious optimism in connection with the ugly problem of child abuse and neglect. But much clearly remains to be done.

Nearly a quarter century ago, the late Henry Kempe, MD, and coauthors awakened the national conscience by coining the phrase "the battered-child syndrome" (JAMA 1962;181:17-24 and JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1984;251:2069). Leaders in the fight against child abuse gathered in Chicago recently at the Seventh National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect to review how far remedial efforts have come—and how much farther they have to go—in the aftermath of Kempe's landmark paper.

Some of the conclusions depend on how the data are interpreted. Richard J. Gelles, PhD, professor of sociology and anthropology and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, and Murray A. Straus, PhD, professor of sociology and director of the Family Violence Research Program, University