Majority of the Physical Child Abuse goes unreported in Jeddah

By Mashael on 8th October 2016

Dentists play a major role in identifying the signs if physical child abuse, considering the situation in Saudi Arabia. Main findings were dentist’s knowledge of child abuse, attitude towards physical abuse and how much effort they put in assessing the abuse. The study was conducted through questionnaires by enrolling 20, fifth year dental students at KAUFD (King Abddul Aziz University). Data was being collected based on questionnaires, previous studies and the knowledge of pediatric dentists. The reason for highlighting this situation in Jeddah was that very less cases were being reported, 11% were suspected cases and only 3% were being reported.

Say No to Child Abuse

Child abuse is becoming a common dilemma in our societies especially due to the fact that many cases are not reported due to threatening reasons. Some are scared, some do not want to go public and some cannot report those dominant figures. Child physical abuse has many physical, psychological, social, and economic consequences for children, societies, and countries (World Health Organization, 2002, World Health Organization, 2014). In Saudi Arabia, the 2010 and 2012 annual reports of the Hospital-Based Child Maltreatment Registry indicated that 60% and 35.8%, respectively, of reported maltreatment cases involved physical abuse (National Family Safety Registry, 2010 and National Family Safety Registry, 2012).

Burn marks inflicted on the boy’s body — photo by Okaz

A domestic violence case of a 9 -year-old boy with burn scars all over his body caused by scalding water administered by his own biological father and mother has been registered at the Jeddah Social Protection Committee (JSPC).

A neighbor filed a complaint against the parents, charging that the boy suffered a lot at the hands of his own merciless parents. With the help of police, JSPC brought the father and son to its headquarters so that social workers may

According to the study carried out in Jeddah, a second largest city in Saudi Arabia, students believed that dentists are capable and also, responsible of diagnosing the physical abuse on a child and then report it to the concerned body. However it was observed that very few reported or were not in position of reporting the cases, since dentist could easily identify the signs of child abuse like broken teeth, bruises on the body.

The study recommended that improved knowledge among the practitioners is required, and child abuse should be an important topic of discussions in schools. There shuold be more strategies to increase awareness in people and giving more authroity to the dentists and doctors to report such cases with out any hesitations.


-World Health Organization, 2002 World Health Organization

Child abuse and neglect by parents and other caregivers

World Report on Violence and Health (2002), pp. 59–86

-World Health Organization, 2014 World Health Organization

Child maltreatment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland (2014)

- National Family Safety Registry, National Family Safety Registry Annual Report 2010


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