Child Abuse Sexual Assault Testimony

Child Fatalities

I have a lot of respected friends and colleagues who care for pediatric  abusive head trauma and sexual abuse patients. And I have a lot of respected friends and colleagues who prosecute these cases.  So I will be interested in feedback about this particular Frontline program (it debuted last night on PBS) that looks at child fatalities and its central premise that some forensic pathologists are ill-equipped to fully explore cause of death in child cases where abuse is suspected.

I haven’t watched the full video yet (you can also read the full transcript of the program here), but I did read one of the articles that accompanies the piece. It mentions not only forensic pathologists, but also SANEs and emergency medicine physicians in its exploration about whether abuse is being overcalled in the US  (because of issues around training and bias), so that was particularly interesting. There’s also a link to Frontline’s expose on death investigation in America, that looks at more than just investigating child fatalities. Make no mistake, though–these pieces are highly critical, and I don’t disagree with some of what I have read. But I do get nervous about anything that may fuel the fires of that small but vocal group of defense experts who make a significant income testifying, with an astounding lack of science behind their opinions, that abusive head trauma is a myth. So do let me know what you think, particularly all of you who do peds work as a part of your practices.

Chapter One (of Three):

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.