Active surveillance of child abuse fatalities

Child Abuse Negl. 1992;16(1):3-10. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(92)90003-a.


Monitoring abuse related deaths of infants and young children yields information necessary to the formulation of sound public policy. Birth and death certificates were correlated with information in the state Child Abuse and Neglect Registry on 104 abuse related fatalities. Significant findings include: very young age of parents at the first pregnancy; high rate of single parenthood; significantly lower educational achievement of victims' mothers; late, inadequate prenatal care; complications during pregnancy; and low birth weight among victims. The authors suggest Active Surveillance as a model for collecting information pertaining to child fatalities. Using Active Surveillance, a review team examines information from state agencies pertaining to children and families to review or determine cause of death and to collect demographic data on victims and perpetrators. Active Surveillance decreases the possibility of misidentifying abuse related deaths as accidental, and allows state agencies to follow abuse fatalities, collecting pertinent information and adjusting policy accordingly. The authors argue that, using Active Surveillance, states and nations may monitor success in preventing child abuse fatalities just as they now use infant mortality to monitor progress in public health, thus creating a stable and reliable standard for measuring progress in eliminating one type of child abuse.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Child Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child Abuse / mortality*
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kansas / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Public Policy*
  • Risk Factors