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To try to achieve the goal of fully protecting a child the first time the child is subjected to potentially survival-threatening abuse, this Article suggests the creation of a model program, called the SOS ("Save Our Survival") Program, with the hope that this model program might ultimately be adopted by child protective agencies throughout the United States. Specially trained teams, known as SOS ("Safeguard Our Survival") Teams, comprised of child protection workers, police officers, medical personnel, attorneys and social workers would staff the program. SOS Team members, who would be on call 24/7, would be notified as soon as a report is received that a child suffered a potentially survival-threatening injury at the hands of their parents or guardians. The reports would be prioritized as to whether the child allegedly has suffered abuse that is survival-threatening per se or survival-threatening in fact.

This Article will hopefully serve as an introductory guide for the SOS Team members in understanding the dynamics of child abuse and in determining whether the abuse that a particular child suffers is survival-threatening per se or in fact. The information provided might also be useful to anyone with a desire to try to understand and alleviate the lethal legacy of survival-threatening child abuse. Part I of the Article provides an overview of the characteristics of child abuse, including its repetitive nature and the phenomenon of the "target child." Parts II and III describe the characteristics and behaviors of both abusive parents and abused children, which may be indicative of child abuse. Parts IV and V focus on the specific kinds of abuse that most often put children at risk of permanent injury or death-those that are survival-threatening per se and those that are survival-threatening in fact. It is hoped that these detailed descriptions will familiarize both professionals and members of the general public, especially those groups mandated to report abuse, with the myriad forms of lethal child abuse, so that they will be better able to identify and immediately report suspected abuse of children to the SOS Team. It is also possible that a more simplified version of the information can be disseminated to children, perhaps by SOS Team members giving presentations at local schools, so that the potential victims will know what kind of actions by their parents constitute the kind of abuse which no child should have to endure.



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