Medical Child Abuse Training

What is Medical Child Abuse?

Medical Child Abuse is defined as the exaggeration, falsification, or induction of illness by a caregiver in a person under their care (usually occurs between a mother and her child/children) regardless of motive. For police and child services, this is much better, and most often the more appropriate name for this abuse. This also avoids the “mental illness” label that comes with the term Munchausen by Proxy. If the motive is obtaining drugs or money through benefits, It would fall under the definition of Medical Child Abuse (Munchausen by Proxy: Clinical and Case Guidance, APSAC Advisor journal, March 2018)

You may see this abuse called many different things, including Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another, Pediatric Condition Falsification, Factitious Disorder by Proxy, or Caregiver Fabricated Illness in a Child. The only difference in any of these terms is related to motive. Other than that, they mean the same thing. By any name, this is abuse.

One of the biggest misconceptions with the term Munchausen by Proxy is that it is some unknown mental disorder that eliminates the criminal offender’s culpability for the crime. In the vast majority of these criminal cases, this isn’t true. The most common psychological diagnosis with these criminal offenders is narcissistic disorder or borderline personality disorder. When given a standard psychological evaluation, many of these offenders will have no psychological findings. Of course, standard psychological tests rely on the person taking the test to self-report honestly, which these offenders almost never do, especially when they are suspected of this abuse.

Child Services in Texas receive zero training from the Texas Department of Family Protective Services on this abuse. It is not taught in the academy and many child services investigators do not know what it is, much less how to investigate it when it lands on their desk. The same can be said for law enforcement. Texas is not the only state where this is the case. This is the norm throughout the United States. If you are on a Child Advocacy team, ask your members about his abuse. You might be surprised at their lack of knowledge.

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