13 Sep 2013

Dental therapists don't report all suspected abuse

10:19 pm on 13 September 2013

A recent study indicates dental therapists across the country often do not report suspected cases of child abuse because they have no faith Child, Youth and Family will do anything.

The Otago University study involved half, or 320, of New Zealand's dental therapists.

Participants reported up to 870 cases of suspected neglect, and up to 1,000 cases where the child's teeth were so bad, it constituted neglect.

One of the authors, Colleen Murray, says one aim of the study was to find out what therapists do if they suspect abuse.

"The majority, which was about 78%, said they would talk to their colleagues. A little less than that said they would discuss the child with either a dentist or a dental specialist. Some of the dental therapists said they would directly notify CYF, just under 40%."

Ms Murray says the main barrier for not reporting suspected abuse was a fear of making a mistake.