* Few dental professionals with child protection training have experience of making referrals.\ud * There is a wide gap in practice between recognising signs of child abuse and neglect and responding effectively.\ud * This may indicate missed opportunities to save children from continuing abuse.\ud * There is a need for improved child protection information, support and training for dental professionals.\ud \ud Abstract\ud Following several highly publicised inquiries into the deaths of children from abuse and neglect, there has been much recent interest in the role and responsibility of all health professionals to protect children at risk of maltreatment. The findings of a postal questionnaire, sent in March 2005 to 789 dentists and dental care professionals with an interest in paediatric dentistry working in varied settings in the UK, are presented in a two-part report and discussed in the context of current multi-agency good practice in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This first part explores reported child protection training, experience and practice. There was a significant gap between recognising signs of abuse and responding effectively: 67% of respondents had suspected abuse or neglect of a child patient at some time in their career but only 29% had ever made a child protection referral. The dental profession is alerted to the need to ensure necessary appropriate action to safeguard children is always taken when child abuse or neglect are suspected
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