A window of opportunity: Referral of adolescents to the hospital Child Protection Team

Saralee Glasser*, Wendy Chen, Nava Stoffman, Liat Lerner-Geva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The arrival of an adolescent at the hospital provides a window of opportunity to help those exposed to abuse or neglect, by looking beyond the presenting symptom. The Child Protection Team (CPT) assesses cases of suspected abuse or neglect (SCAN) referred by hospital staff. As adolescents pose a particular array of presentations, this study assessed their socio-demographic features and characteristics of hospitalization in order to improve procedures for identifying SCAN. The study group included all 674 referrals of 10-17-year-olds to the CPT from 1991-2007. Their files were abstracted and demographics compared to similarly-aged Emergency Department (ED) admissions. Different patterns were found by gender and age group. The youngest group (10-13 years) included a higher rate of boys than girls (47.9% vs. 27.6%), and among the oldest (16-17 years) the rate of girls was higher (31.9% vs 15.8%). Comparison with all ED admissions indicated a lower rate of younger girls and a higher rate of 14-15-year-old girls in the study group. The study group also had a higher rate of immigrants (12.8% vs. 4.7%). The most frequent reason for arrival at the hospital was suicidal behavior (30.9%). Older age was related to fewer arrivals for trauma/burn and more suicidal behavior. In 83.1% of the referrals, reports were made to welfare authorities and/or police. The suspicion in 64.2% of the referrals was emotional abuse or physical/emotional neglect; in 18.8%, physical and/or sexual abuse was suspected. The older groups had lower rates of physical and/or sexual abuse and higher rates of emotional abuse or physical/emotional neglect. This study highlights the importance of age-by-gender analysis and understanding of the differential susceptibility of early, middle and late adolescence to SCAN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-500
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Adolescence
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Child protection


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