Mandatory reporting represents the key strategy in child sexual abuse cases. It is based on the assumption that early detection will help prevent serious injuries (even the death of the child), will alleviate victims from the responsibility of asking for help themselves, and at their own risk, and will also encourage coordination between legal, medical, and social response units. Among health professionals with a reporting obligation are odontologists. Worldwide, dentists have actively committed to take part in the detection, reporting and prevention of child sexual abuse from presumed and proven lesions in the mouth. However, although current legislation explicitly states this mandatory reporting, it appears that Chilean dentists are neither conceptually nor technically prepared to take on this responsibility. Hence, this type of forensic legal evidence is undervalued, inadequately addressed within other medical professions, and practically unknown in the judicial system. In summary, this is a “missed opportunity” in circumstances that warrant serious scrutiny, resulting in severe social judgment and criticism. A complete review and regulation of the guidelines in this area must be carried out in order to use all means available, and apply legal measures to provide the necessary proof in these cases.
KEY WORDS: child sexual abuse, odontology, sufficient proof.
How to cite this article
FONSECA, G. M.; LETELIER-ACEVEDO, N. & LOZANO-GÓMEZ, R. Dentists and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in Chile: missed opportunities. Int. J. Odontostomat., 12(4):431-436, 2018.