Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 4, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
20 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Friday, October 4, 1974 More willing to report suspected child abuse Child protection registry enlightens public attitudes By LYNNE VAN LUVEN Herald Family Editor People have become more willing to report cases of suspected child abuse since the inception of the province's child protection registry Jan. 1 of this year, a Lethbridge child welfare supervisor says. Denis Ostercamp, a unit supervisor for the Lethbridge region of the deparment of health and social .development, says public at- titudes towards the battered child within society have become much more enlightened. "Since the registry came into being, people have been phoning in much more says Mr. Ostercamp. "We still receive quite a few meddlesome calls from peo- ple who are, quite simply, not minding their own business, but we feel all calls and reports from citizens should be taken seriously and warrant investigation." The department recently announced the child protec- tion registry has recorded 216 cases of child abuse in the province since January. Although the bulk of the reported cases 119 in Ed- monton and 90 in Calgary occurred in the province's two larger centres, 12 confirmed cases of abuse were dis- covered in Lethbridge. Mr. Ostercamp admits that investigation of child abuse reports is a touchy Issue, but maintains tact and under- standing on behalf of the social worker is the best guarantee of coping successfully with such situations. "Most people are sur- prisingly accepting when we contact he says. "There is still some negativism, but that has to be worked out on an individual basis with the family and the worker." In Lethbridge, suspected in- stances of child abuse or neglect may be reported in three ways: by calling directly to the registry via a zenith number 22024, operated 24 hours a day; by calling the Lethbridge regional office 327-4501 during office hours or by con- tacting the on-duty social worker on duty after hours. Mr. Ostercamp stresses that the social worker on call after hours should be called only in situations of extreme emergency. "We have two workers carrying a full child protection says the Doctors disregard child abuse campaign As citizens are becoming more aware of the problems of child abuse, one professional group within society is not moving with the times, the department of health and social development says. In a recent news release, health and social development minister Neil Crawford praised the success of the province's child protection registry, intimating Alberta doctors are showing a less than impressive response to the department's cam- paign to lessen child battering. The release states, "doctors and hospitals, which combined reported only 24 cases, did not figure prominently in reporting cases of abuse." Lethbridge child protection workers have found that local doc- tors are not responding all that well to the request for reports on suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. "But there's Deen an im- says child welfare supervisor Denis Ostercamp, who feels it's just a matter of time before more doctors will become in- volved in reporting. At its annual meeting at the end of September, the Alberta Medical Association phased out its own child protection registry to avoid duplication. The AMA registry was established eight years ago, in 1966, and during it's period of operation recorded only 50 cases of suspected abuse. However, any attempt to equate the AMA and the government registry is futile: neither was organized for the same purposes. The doctor's registry, says AMA executive director Dr. Robert Clark, was established only for the use of doctors, who had their doubts about the abuse of a young patient. If a child appeared in the office too many times with unexplained broken bones and bruises, the doctor could then report the situation to the AMA registry. If the registry receiv- ed reports about the same patient more than once, the AMA would investigate. "Of the 50 cases reported.'iiot one was repeated and thus not one had to be explains Dr. Clark. Dr. R. N. Hatfield, president of the AMA, says doctors' apparent reluctance to report suspected cases of child abuse all boils down to a matter of ethics. "Doctors are having real anguish over the ethics says Dr. Hatfield. "And I think its honest to say that this question of where their prime responsibility lies to their professional oaths or to a broader concept of society's well being has caused them to act quite conser- vatively in the matter of reporting suspected child abuse." "How does a doctor reconcile his conflicting Hatfield asks. "Does he give such informa- tion to a third party, thereby violating the confidentiality of his records and jeopardizing patients' trust? Doctors are very cognizant of the danger of becoming stool pigeons. Until they can settle such questions in their own mind, we'll continue to see more reports of abuse from neighbors than from physicians." Dr. Clark has a more basic answer: "Who's to say that doctors are seeing great numbers of un- reported child abuse he asks with some annoyance. "In this province, no one has any previous statistics on which to base such statements. Who can say what ac- tual numbers are A clause of the Child Welfare Act providing a penalty for failing to report suspected child abuse has remained unenforced, says Dr. Clark, partially through the efforts of the AMA who convinced the government to wait and see if citizens would not volunteer the in- formation. unit supervisor, "and one worker carrying a partial protection caseload. Each worker may carry as many as 30 cases, though even 20 is a rather heavy concentration." Mr. Ostercamp says the workers will work with the families involved "as long as is providing counselling and referral ser- vices. EMOTIONAL NEGLECT Although the child protec- tion registry cites the 216 cases reported as "actual physical Mr. Oster- camp says there is more emotional neglect than actual boldily harm occurring in Lethbridge and area families. "Summer seems to be the most prevalent time for parents to neglect or abandon their he comments. 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Flooi Coverings, Second f loot E ATO N'S Shop Eaton's Tonight (Friday) until 9 and Saturday to Buy Una 328- M11.UM your Eaton Account for Eaton's Guarantee: Satisfactory or Money Refunded." -The Herald Family Bond of sight, smell deters child abuse? TORONTO (CP) A mother who does not hear, see or smell her baby on the day of birth may be more like- ly to abuse the child later, a Los Angeles doctor said recently. Dr. E. F. Lenoski, director of pediatrics at John Wesley County Hospital, said in an interview he has investigated 612 cases of child abuse and -compared them with 500 other children treated in the hospital who had not been abused. He found many more of the abused children had been separated from their mothers at birth because there were birth complications. He found 10 times as many abused children had been born by caesarean section, twice as many were born prematurely and twice as many had a complicated birth. Dr. Lenoski was guest speaker here today at an international conference on the unwanted child. He said piping the sound of the baby into the mother's room or letting her smell the unique odor of the fluid- in which he floated before birth might pro- vide the necessary to create the bond 'between mother and child. Dr. Lenoski said he found that 91 per cent of the parents of abused children said the pregnancy was planned, not accidental, indicating the abused child had been a wanted one. The abused child frequently looked like the parent who mistreated him, he added. Dr. Lenoski said 60 per cent of the abusing parents said they were subjected to violence as children, as did 40 per cent of the other parents. He found no difference in economic or educational status of the two groups of parents. Dr. Lenoksi said abusing parents did not mean to use violence, but moved into it when the child failed to learn a lesson. Angry Group helps stabilize shaky marriages OTTAWA (CP) Doug and Beth, a young married couple with university degrees who had been arguing and fighting ever since their recent marriage, seemed headed for divorce until they joined the Angry Group. There, a form of psy- chotherapy that focuses on anger helped them overcome convictions that feelings and thoughts of anger should be expressed physically or ver- bally. Dr. H. B. Danesh of the Royal Ottawa Hospital told the Canadian Psychiatric Association annual meeting this week that this type of therapy has been so successful there is a waiting list of peo- ple wanting to join the Angry Group. A competitive society generates anger in many people, said Dr. Danesh, a psychiatrist. However, many people are unable to.control their angry thoughts, feelings or actions and become dis- tressed when convinced they lacked sincerity and love. The Ottawa therapy group, in which members are en- couraged to identify their anger and display it. consists of about six members which may include married couples. The proceedings in the group are so intense that people dependent on alcohol or drugs usually can't cope and withdraw. The group, which usually meets in weekly two-hour sessions for six of seven weeks, is guided by therapists through three phases. The first is a reflective phase dealing with "How I get angry." This involves a general discussion by all par- ticipants with the focus on anger. In the second phase, the sub- jects are instructed to ex- perience anger while working on finger painting, clay modelling or drawing forms of expression which help the subject feel his emotions. The third phase is the 'growing out of anger" daring which the patient is helped to identify his level of maturity and growth and to use new in- sights to improve his relations with others. Dr. Danesh said subjects find themselves growing more loving towards one another throughout the sessions as they become aware that anger is not the opposite of love.