Pediatricians, medical professionals critical to identifying child abuse


Each year in the United States,
nearly 4 million reports of
child abuse are logged.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Child abuse and neglect are significant issues nationally and in Arizona, occurring across demographic groups. Two children die each week in Arizona from neglect or abuse—a higher mortality rate than childhood cancer. However, these are only the known cases; untold numbers likely go unreported.

Experts believe that every child death due to abuse or neglect is preventable.

Banner Health is committed to identifying and protecting vulnerable children. With prevention of child maltreatment our guiding principle, our medical professionals reach out to the fully staffed Children at Risk Evaluation (CARE) team for support when they see warning signs in children who present for care in medical settings. The CARE program is funded largely by philanthropic support from donors to the Banner Health Foundation.

“The Banner CARE Team is dedicated to evaluating child victims of inflicted harm, to collaborate with our community partners to prevent further harm to these children and their siblings,” said Shawn Singleton, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and medical director of the CARE team at Banner Children's at Desert.

Arizona state law requires professionals responsible for the care or treatment of children to report suspected abuse or neglect to authorities. Because Banner provides primary, emergency, and inpatient to services to more than half the children in our state, it is critical that our teams are fully able to recognize possible signs of abuse and neglect in children and to respond appropriately.

The CARE team also works with community health providers to provide education and outreach. In 2023, they provided resident education to 1,110 providers at Valleywise Health, Abrazo Health, Banner University Medical Center – Phoenix, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, A.T. Still University, and Northern Arizona University. Additional agencies are now interested in this education, including Arizona’s hospitals and academic institutions, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Child Safety, and nonprofits.

The CARE team protects children by being a sentinel for identifying abuse that would otherwise be missed, reporting suspected abuse, and supporting families by making appropriate referrals to support services. Their primary goal remains to prevent abuse before it happens, so the team works diligently to strengthen families to reduce known risk factors associated with inflicted trauma.