A review of child abuse and the role of the Dental Team in South Africa
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Introduction: Child abuse is a worldwide problem and South Africa is not immune. In Cape Town, violence against children has increased in the last ten years. Children are powerless and cannot protect themselves, and the onus is therefore on adults, caregivers, teachers, health care workers (including dental personnel) and other persons in positions of trust to speak out on their behalf. Just what constitutes abuse is a controversial issue dictated largely by culture and upbringing. However, no violence against a child can be justified even if it is considered to be a form of discipline. Abuse includes any act that negatively affects a child’s physical or emotional health and development. It can result in ‘physical, cognitive and emotional impairment’ which could have long-term effects. In broad terms, child abuse can be defined as the ‘maltreatment of children.’ Such abuse can be inflicted in many ways.