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pandaIn 1995, ISDS launched the P.A.N.D.A. (Prevent Abuse & Neglect through Dental Awareness) program to educate dentists and the entire dental team on how to identify the signs of abuse and neglect and report a suspected situation. Illinois dentists and dental hygienists are mandated reporters of suspected abuse and neglect.

Abuse and neglect know no boundaries. In 2008, P.A.N.D.A. took on a new dimension from its inception by expanding coverage to the entire family—children, adults and the elderly.

The mission statement of P.A.N.D.A. reads, “To create an atmosphere of understanding in the health care communities that will result in the prevention of abuse and neglect through early identification and appropriate intervention for anyone who has been abused or neglected.” Dental offices must be comfortable with identifying and reporting suspected abuse or neglect since members of the dental team are in a prime position to help these victims.

To report a situation of suspected abuse or neglect, call the abuse hotline at 800/25-ABUSE. Additional information is available through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

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