Japanese Dental Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (JDSPCAN)

I Greetings from the Chairman

Shigeru Watanabe

Japan executed the Child Abuse Prevention Law in 2000. Since then, there have been so many changes in the way the country and the community deal with child abuse. As a result, reported cases of child abuse have increased every year. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare published a report in 2015 that showed child consultation centers deal with more than eighty thousand cases of child abuse every year and more than one thousand children have died because of child abuse. Another report showed many children think that when they are subjected to physical violence, it is their fault. It is only when they reach about the age of 17 that they realize they are being abused. There are so many child physical abuse cases and cases where children live in deplorable conditions that child abuse is considered to be one of the most major problems in our society today. Castigating children is still part of family life and tolerated by society as long as there an intact family unit. In order to eradicate or reduce child abuse cases, there is a need to construct systems that offer attentive care to families as well as to individuals.

Our study group has many tasks, including analyzing child abuse and child maltreatment through dentistry. We build a system of daily check-ups, change the way society thinks of dentistry, utilize school check-ups, network with schools and dentists, and offer further assistance to disabled and sick children.

Our goal is to establish dentists as protectors for children as well as for adults by not only treating their teeth, but also by diagnosing their health and quality of life through dental examination.

Even though child abuse is a very challenging issue, we should deal with child abuse issues together until there is no more child abuse or child maltreatment in this world.

II This study group’s purpose

Japan executed the Child Abuse Prevention Law in 2000. Since then, there have been so many changes in the way the country and the community deal with child abuse. Child abuse cases, however, are increasing, and more than one thousand cases have been reported where children died due to child abuse in 2014.

Similarly, oral disease is also a life-style related disease. When you examine a child with oral disease where abuse is suspected, you will be surprised to find that children with cavities tend also to have problems including child neglect by sick parents, financially troubled households, parents’ divorce, unwanted pregnancies, sickness and disability. Using oral disease as a barometer of a house environment is likely to predict child neglect that would otherwise be very hard to detect.

There are already several active study groups and scholarly societies that scientifically study child abuse. Only a few dentists, however, join these groups. We can only see some random activity by the dentists who serve these groups. Dentists are, therefore, not fulfilling their responsibility to be a child’s protector. Many would say that the idea of saving children from a dentistry perspective is a good thing, but there are many problems in the details. This group was established to help prevent continuing child abuse by organizing the dentists who might have been actively trying to help children individually. Our study group’s mission is to eradicate child abuse and child maltreatment, including child neglect, by working together globally with all individual activists and local dentistry associations.

Shigeru Watanabe