Aim Child safeguarding is society’s responsibility. Dentists are uniquely positioned to recognise Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) in dental practice and the wider society. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced a child protection law in 2016. We aimed to assess the awareness of UAE dentists of child maltreatment, protection and safeguarding.
Study Design A cross-sectional survey.
Methods We surveyed 381 UAE dentists about the knowledge and practice of CAN and safeguarding issues using a self-administered anonymous questionnaire. Statistical analysis was carried out using Chi-square, t-test, ANOVA and Pearson’s correlation test and statistical significance was set as p
Results Over 39 % (n=152) of the responders suspected CAN; male dentists suspected more CAN than females (p=0.015). Orthodontists, paediatric dentists (p<0.001) and female dentists (p=0.001) were more knowledgeable about diagnosing CAN. Paediatric dentists attended more CAN-related postgraduate training (p<0.001) than other specialties. Over 90% (n=346) believed that CAN should be addressed, 58.1% (n=224) and 54.1% (n=206) had CAN undergraduate and postgraduate training respectively but 53.5% (n=204) were unaware of local child protection guidelines. Dentists barriers to child protection reporting were; fear of family violence (59.6%, n=227), lack of knowledge of referral process (60.2%, n=228) and lack of diagnosis certainty (54.9%, n=206). UAE dentists qualified in Western and Asian countries had fewer barriers for child protection reporting (p=0.022) than the Arab and Gulf Cooperation Council qualified dentists.
Conclusions A large minority of UAE dentists suspected CAN. Factors influencing child protection reporting were identified. Dentists’ gender, specialty, and country of qualification affected their knowledge of CAN and practice of safeguarding. Child protection training is recommended.
Keywords Child maltreatment; Child abuse; Child neglect; Child protection; Dentists; United Arab Emirates