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Skills & Science of Doctoring

By now images of horror and shock like the one of students and teachers crying at Buell Elementary have become all-too-common. As we reel once again from the terrible thought that an innocent life has been taken and it was a child who pulled the trigger, we should be vigilant for the next event, which is becoming equally predictable… As public health professionals, we are trained to ask important questions so we can treat both the symptoms and root causes of a sickness. We will give a child medicine for a fever, but also antibiotics for the microorganism causing the illness. The question to ask when diagnosing this tragedy is a simple one: Where did a seven-year-old boy get a loaded gun?
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Preparing parents for the aggressive, anti-social, and/or disobedient behavior of children would lessen the likelihood of emotionally driven disciplinary actions by parents (which often lead to abusive actions) (Rosenberg, 41). Focusing on the parents, however, is not the only interventional strategy that physicians can employ. At each doctor visit children should be emotionally evaluated. Studies show that child abuse is often accompanied by language disorders, lower intelligence, and deficits in emotional and social development (Newberger, 51). Physicians who focus on these aspects of a child might be given a clue as to the environment in which a child is being raised and can inquire further if he/she has suspicions of child abuse (Newberger, 71). Finally, at each visit, physicians should review with the child what is considered “good” and “bad” touching and who they can turn to if they feel they have been touched in a “bad” way (Kaplan, 125). The idea of these techniques is to provide the child with the knowledge he/she needs to avoid abusive situations. Furthermore, the knowledge imparted by the physician to the parents allows the parents to avoid creating an abusive environment at home. The ultimate goal of decreasing the prevalence of child abuse is not only to provide safe homes for children, but also to lessen the violent tendencies that these children are more likely to
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