Stemming the tide of child abuse

Health News

Geisinger Chair of Pediatrics urges call to action

DANVILLE, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We often see stories about child abuse in the news.

But those media reports don’t even begin to indicate just how prevalent the crime really is. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, a noted local pediatrician is calling for action to stop a growing epidemic.

Dr. Frank Maffei encountered a disturbing finding one recent night concerning the majority of child patients at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

“We just had just an incredibly remarkable increase in the number of abuse cases,” said Dr. Maffei.

Six of the 11 pediatric patients were hospitalized not because of illness or accidental injury but from child abuse.

“The number is bad enough but the severity, the harm in which these children have suffered their abusive injury has been violent,” said Dr. Maffei who is Geisinger Women and Children’s Institute Chairman of Pediatrics.

Dr. Maffei has been working for years to help stem the tide of child abuse. He played a major role in the second annual Child Abuse Summit in November when Geisinger welcomed lawmakers and leaders to seek solutions.

Just weeks after the summit, 3-year-old Arabella Parker of Trevorton died from child abuse. Her accused abuser is the mother’s boyfriend. Dr. Maffei handed Eyewitness News the results of a study that points to that scenario as a growing problem.

That eight-year study looked at 149 inflicted injury deaths among children. It found that kids who lived with unrelated adults were nearly 50 times as likely to die from inflicted injuries than children who only lived with their parents. Besides educating single moms and spreading more awareness, Dr. Maffei is leaning on Pennsylvania lawmakers like Rep. Tarah Toohil (R) 116th District to reverse the disturbing child abuse trend.

“We’ve increase laws with mandated reporters and we’re trying to get the community to see if there’s something out there that looks strange to you that you should be calling in and reporting that,” said Rep. Toohil who is a member of the PA House Children And Youth Committee.

Collaboration is what Dr. Maffei considers key to curing one of society’s worst ills.

“We’ve got to make sure the communication is crystal clear and I think a lot of good work is happening there,” Dr. Maffei said.

Dr. Maffei says another Child Abuse Summit is planned again in November at an alternate location in Pennsylvania. Before that, Geisinger will host a regional program this spring in Danville to take up the topic.

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