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Nurses have a responsibility and requirement in all states to recognize and report suspected child abuse, maltreatment and neglect. Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome) is listed as a form of child abuse in all states.

Currently, four states require nurses to complete continuing education courses in child abuse and/or Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome), and reporting requirements as a condition for license renewal: Iowa, Kentucky, New York, and Pennsylvania. These states and others are used as examples of definitions and requirements. RnCeus Interactive also has available a complete course on child abuse that includes AHT.

All nurses should check their state’s requirements annually for up to date information on mandated course requirements. Now 34 states are accepted into a compact agreement or having pending legislation on a compact agreement. Wherever a nurse is employed, not only where his or her license is renewed, reporting child abuse is required.

In this course Abusive Head Trauma will be discussed with emphasis on signs and symptoms, causes, long term effects, knowledge of laws, preventive measures, parent education and responsibilities of nurses.

Federal and state child abuse definitions

Federal and state governments have assumed a responsibility to protect children when parents fail to provide proper care. Specific definitions of abuse and neglect with civil and criminal statutes are found in individual state standards. This federal and state definitions of child abuse and neglect refer to children under 18 years of age.

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

1. Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical
2. or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation;
3. or An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)
The CDC includes four types of child abuse and neglect to children under 18 years of age

1. Physical Abuse
2. Sexual Abuse
3. Emotional Abuse
4. Neglect