Objective: Description of the characteristics of (suspected) child abuse after the establishment of a Child Abuse Team and the introduction of guidelines on how to deal with child abuse and a standardised registration form for suspicions of child abuse.
Method: An inventory and analysis of the available data on the reporting of, approach to and care provided in case of(suspected) child abuse from I January 2oo0 to 30 April 2004 in the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Results: The Child Abuse Team received 220 reports of suspected child abuse and the number of suspected and confirmed cases of child abuse increased each year. In 58 suspected cases, the suspicions were confirmed on the basis of additional information from the general practitioners or other attending physicians, or conversations with the parents and the child. There were 29 girls and 29 boys; 22 of them were from families with multiple problems. Of these 58 confirmed cases, 31 were reported to the national Advisory Centre for Registration of Child Abuse. In 120 of the 220 suspected cases of child abuse, this suspicion was refuted, while in 42 cases the suspicion could neither be refuted nor confirmed.
Conclusion: An increased number of suspected cases of child abuse were reported and confirmed each year following the introduction of a standardised registration form and subsequent analysis by a multidisciplinary team. Broader application of this approach may contribute to improved insight into the prevalence and causes of child abuse.