Following is a list of definitions accepted by the Child Fatality Review Community across the United States. The list is compiled from NCFR, the State of Washington, and the work of the Maternal Child Health Center and its associates.
Abandonment – The act of a parent or caretaker leaving a child for an excessive period of time without adequate supervision or provision for the child's needs. State laws vary in defining adequacy of supervision and the length of time a child may be left alone or in the care of another before abandonment is determined. The age of the child is also an important factor in determining whether the child has been abandoned.
Abdominal Distention – Swelling of the abdomen (the area located between the chest and pelvis), which may be caused by internal injury, bowel blockage, or malnutrition.
Abnormal – Deviating from the standard; not average; typical or usual.
Abrasion – A wound in which either skin or mucous membrane have been scraped off.
Accidental death – A mode of death indicating non-intentional trauma. See Mode of Death; and Intentional and Non-Intentional Injury.
Accountability – The measurable extent to which an organization, individual, or the general public keeps the promises made to the people served. Most often this involves providing assurance to someone or some organization that expected action occurred.
Accused – See Defendant.
Acute – In medicine, refers to a health effect that is brief, intense and short term.(as compared to chronic).
Acute Pancreatitis – An acute inflammation of the pancreas (the organ in the body which produces and secretes the enzymes which aid digestion). Symptoms include serve abdominal pains, nausea and fever. In children, trauma should be considered as a possible cause.
Addiction – Over-dependence on the intake of certain substances (such as alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs) or performing certain acts, such as smoking. Inability to overcome a habit or behavior pattern.
Adjudication (Adjudicatory Hearing) – In a child welfare case, the hearing in which the court determines whether a child has been maltreated or whether there is some other basis for the court to take jurisdiction (or authority) over the case. The grounds upon which the court may take jurisdiction vary from state to state. If the court finds that there is a basis for jurisdiction, the next stage of the process is the disposition hearing.
Adoption – A legal process that vests all legal rights and responsibilities of the parenthood in persons other than the child’s biological or previously adoptive parents.
Anemia – Any condition in which the number of red blood cells (carriers if oxygen throughout the body) are less than normal.
Anorexia – Lack or loss of appetite for food.
Anorexia Nervosa – A personality disorder manifested by an extreme aversion to food. It usually, but not exclusively, occurs in young women. May include bingeing and purging (Bulimia).
Anterior – In human anatomy, the front surface of the body.
Anticipated Death – A death resulting from a diagnosed terminal illness or other debilitating or deteriorating illness or condition.
Antisocial Personality Disorder or Sociopathic Personality – characterized by poor social relationships and an inability to conform to cultural, ethical, or norms. The lack of superego or conscience.
Apnea – The absence of breathing. Cessation of respiration.
Appeal – In law, resort to a superior (appellate) court or administrative agency to review the decision of an inferior court (trial or lower appellate) or administrative agency.
Arraignment – One of the first steps in the criminal process in which a defendant is formally charged with an offense and informed of his/her constitutional rights.
Asphyxia – Death caused by being deprived of oxygen. Can be caused by strangulation, suffocation, choking, or smothering.
Assault – The attempt to inflict bodily injury on another person, with unlawful force and the apparent ability to inflict the bodily injury unless stopped. Assault is both a crime and a tort (private/civil wrong).
Assessment (related to child fatalities) – Evaluation and/or investigation as completed by involved professionals utilizing their own standards
Atrophy – Wasting away of flesh, tissue, cell, or organ.
Autism – A syndrome appearing in childhood with symptoms of self-absorption, inaccessibility, aloneness, inability to relate to others, highly repetitive play and language disturbances. The cause is unknown.
Autopsy – The dissection of a dead body for the purpose of inquiring into the cause of death. Also, port mortem examination to determine the cause or nature of a disease. An autopsy is normally required by statute for violent, unexpected, sudden or unexplained deaths.
Avitaminosis – A condition caused by the lack of one or more essential vitamins, which may be caused by lack of vitamins in the diet or by the body's inability to use the vitamins because of disease.
Avulsion – A forcible separation or tearing away of a body part or tissue.
Baby Gram – (Slang) One or two x rays taken in order to see all of a baby’s body at one or two angles (often inadequate).
Basilar Skull Fracture – A fracture of the base of the skull, which will often result in spinal fluid leaking from the nose or ear.
Battered Child Syndrome – A term describing a combination of physical and other indicators that a child’s internal and external injuries result from acts committed by a parent or caretaker. In some states Battered Child Syndrome has been judicially recognized as an acceptable medical diagnosis.
Best Interest of the Child – A standard frequently used by child welfare agencies and child welfare courts in determining whether to undertake specific acts regarding a child.
Birth Parent – A parent to whom a child is born. Also called “biological” or “natural” parent.
Blunt Force Trauma – Injury caused by force from a blunt object (such objects may include hands and feet). Includes abrasions, bruises and contusions, and lacerations.
Board Certified – A physician who has completed residency training and has passed an official medical board approved examination to be listed as a specialist in a particular field.
Bone Scan – A nuclear medicine study that can assist in diagnosis of early or minimal fractures, especially in children under two years of age where bones have not ossified.
Brain Stem – Portion of the brain connecting the cerebrum and the cerebellum to the spinal cord.
Bruise – An injury that does not break the skin but causes ruptures of the small underlying vessels with resultant discoloration of tissues. Organs can also be bruised, e.g., brain, kidneys. Synonymous with contusion and ecchymosis. See also Hemorrhage.
• Petechiae – Very small bruises caused by broken capillaries.
• Purpura – Petechiae occurring in groups or a small bruise up to one centimeter in diameter.
• Ecchymosis – Bruise larger than one centimeter in diameter.
Burn – A wound resulting from the application of heat, cold, electricity, or chemicals to the body. Burns are classified in terms of the degree of damage.
• First Degree – Injury limited to the epidermis (outer skin layer).
• Second Degree – Injury through the epidermis and dermis, typically causing the formation of blisters.
• Third Degree – Destruction of the entire skin, including nerve fibers.
Calcification – Process in which organic tissue becomes hardened by the deposition of lime salts in the tissues, e.g., the formation of bone. Seen through x-rays, the amount of calcium deposited indicates the degree of healing of a broken bone or the location of previous healed fractures.
Callus – The hard bone-like substance that forms around the site of fractured bones and gradually fuses with underlying bone as the fracture heals. It is visible on x-ray about a week after the injury. See Calcification.
Calvaria (Calvarium) – The upper dome-like portion of the skull, composed of the superior portions of the frontal, parietal, and occipital bones.
CAPTA – See Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.
Caretaker – In child welfare, a person responsible for a child’s health or welfare. This may be the child’s parent or guardian, another person within the child’s own home, or relative in a relative’s home, foster care home, or residential institution.
Cartilage – Hard connective tissue that is not bone. In the fetus and growing child, cartilage may be the forerunner of bone before calcium is deposited to form bone.
CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate. A non-lawyer who represents the best interest of a child in a child welfare proceeding.
Case – In child welfare, refers to both to the process of a child and family through the child welfare agency and to the process of the child and family through court.
Case Management – A systemic approach to social work in which an emphasis is placed on the system in which a client must function rather than on inner thought process. Case management requires identification and coordination of the multiple services required by the client.
Case Plan – In child welfare, a written document which contains at least: (1) a description of the home or institution in which the child is placed; (2) a plan for assuring that the child receives proper care and that services are provided which will reduce risk, promote healthy family functioning or facilitate the child’s return home or to another permanent placement; and (3) the child’s health and education records.
Case Planning – The continuous process engaged in by a child welfare agency in developing and modifying a child or family’s case plan.
Case Worker – The staff member of a child welfare agency who is responsible for working with a child or family.
C.A.T. Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography) – a radiological study using x-rays translated by computer to show body cross sections. See M.R.I.
Cause of Death – The effect or condition that brought about the cessation of life (e.g., trauma, asphyxia, cancer).
Cellulitus – Inflammation of cellular or connective tissue.
Central Registry – In child welfare, generally, a listing of names of persons found by a CPS agency to be perpetrators of child abuse or neglect. The existence and use of Central Registries varies from state to state.
Cerebral – Pertaining to the brain.
Cerebral Edema – Swelling of the brain due to accumulation of watery material.
Child – Person under 18 years of age. Synonymous with minor.
Child Abuse – (Common, legal) Intentional injury to a child. Each state has enacted its own definition of child abuse, generally based on the definition found in the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. According to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (see CAPTA) is any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Child Abuse and Neglect (Fatal) – Reportable child abuse and neglect when the abuse or neglect causes or significantly contributes to a child’s death (see homicide).
Child Sexual Abuse – The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children. Note: Each state is responsible for providing its own definition of child abuse and neglect.
Child Abuse Central Index – A state central index of reports of child abuse/neglect; it generally includes acts or omissions by caretakers that are held to be true and of significance after an investigation by law enforcement or child protective services (CPS).
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) – An act introduced and promoted in Congress by the US Senator Walter Mondale and signed into law on January 31, 1974. The Act emphasized multidisciplinary approaches to child abuse and neglect. Codified at 42 USC § 101 et seq.
Child Abuse Protocol Committee – County level representatives from the office of the sheriff, county department of family and child Services, office of the district attorney, juvenile court, magistrate court, county board of education, office of the chief of police of the largest municipality in the county, and the office of the coroner or medical examiner. The committee is charged with developing local protocol to investigate and prosecute alleged cases of child abuse. See Local Child Death Review Team.
Child Death Review Report – A standardized form required for collecting data on child fatalities meeting the criteria for review by the Child Death Review Teams as approved by the relevant jurisdiction.
Child Death Review Team (CDRT) – Representatives from the office of the coroner or medical examiner, county department of family and children services, public health department, juvenile court, office of the district attorney, and law enforcement. May be formed at a county, regional or state level.
Child Development – Pattern of sequential stages or interrelated physical, psychological, and social development in the process of maturation from infancy and total dependence to adulthood and relative independence.
Child Maltreatment – See Child Abuse.
Child Neglect – (Common, legal) An injury to a child caused by the omission of necessary acts including failure to provide food, healthcare, shelter or safety. See Child Abuse.
Child Protective Services (CPS) – (Common) The welfare department/social service system designed to protect children. In most states, the entity that receives and investigates reports of suspected child maltreatment and provides services to children and families to ameliorate past maltreatment and prevent future maltreatment.
Child Welfare Agency – In most states, the public agency responsible for the provision of services such as Child Protective Services (CPS) and foster care.
Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act (Public Law 96-272) – A federal law passed in 1980 intended to prevent multiple foster care placements and increase effective permanency planning for children in foster care. Case plans, findings of reasonable effort, periodic reviews, and dispositional reviews are among its requirements for states wanting a share of money appropriated under the Act.
Child Welfare Court – The court that hears child welfare cases (emergency removal, adjudication, disposition, review, termination or parental rights). Sates have different names for this court, including family court, juvenile court, and dependency court.
Choking – When the upper airways is blocked by a foreign object.
Chronic – In medicine, developing slowly and persisting for a long period of time.
Citizen’s Review Board – See Foster Care Review Board.
Civil Court – Courts established for the adjudication or controversies between individual parties, or the ascertainment, enforcement, and redress of private rights. The court which hears child welfare cases is a civil court.
Clotting Factor – Material in blood that causes it to coagulate or clot. Deficiencies in clotting factors can cause profuse internal bleeding and bruising, as in the disease hemophilia. Bruises or bleeding caused by clotting factor deficiencies may be mistaken for abuse.
Coagulation – The process of clotting. The body’s process of healing itself when blood is released from an injured vessel.
Coagulation Studies – Blood tests done to diagnose or rule out possible clotting factors diseases.
Coining – A Southeast Asian folk remedy in which the edge of a coin is repeatedly rubbed over the body, generally the upper torso, windpipe and inner arm. The result is a series of reddish to purple vertical bruises resembling strap marks, which vary in depth and severity. The bruises are believed to be an indicator for the evil spirits of a disease to exit the body.
Colon – The part of the large intestine that connects the small bowel (ileum) with the rectum.
Colposcope – Optical instrument for low power magnification of the external genitalia as well as the vagina and cervix. Used for detection of sexual injuries. Also used for detection of ano-rectal injuries.
Commissioner – See Master.
Common Law – In the law, the system of jurisprudence (the form of law) which developed in England and came to American colonies during colonization. Common law is derived and developed from the decisions of judges.
Completed Review – Data entered and verified in a Child Death Review Data System.
Competent Intent – The desire to cause an event to happen by someone with the ability to form that intent (some say a child under the age of 8 does not have the ability to form competent intent).
Concussion – An injury to the brain caused by a violent jarring or shaking, or a blow to the brain. After a mild concussion there may be a brief loss of consciousness with a headache on awakening. A severe concussion may cause lengthy unconsciousness and disruption of breathing or other vital functions of the brainstem.
Confidentiality Statement – A standardized form, approved by the jurisdictional authority, which must be signed by all participants in the review process.
Congenital – Those mental or physical traits, malformations, disease, etc., that are present at birth. May be hereditary or due to some influence during gestation.
Consultants – Non-statutory members of a Child Death Review Team chosen to serve on a review team for their expertise, experience, and/or community involvement.
Contusion – See Bruise.
Coroner – A jurisdictional official whose duty it is to investigate sudden, suspicious, or violent death to determine the cause. Also referred to as medical examiner.
Coroner's Investigator – An official investigator for the coroner, who may have varied backgrounds, levels of education and areas of specialty.
Corporal Punishment – Physical punishment inflicted directly upon the body.
Cortex – The outer layer of an organ.
Costal Cartilage – Cartilage that attaches the ribs to the sternum or to other cartilage.
Cranium – The skull.
Crime Scene – The physical site where a crime may have occurred. See Death Scene.
Criminal Court – A court designated to hear matters relating to criminal law, this court hears cases involving the crime of child abuse.
Crisis Intervention – In social work, the purposeful activities and involvement of a helping a person at the point that another person or family is caught in acute, disabling distress due to situational events. The intervention includes rapid response to move the client from emotional disorganization to rational problem solving through time-limited counseling and other services.
Cupping – A folk remedy in which an alcohol-soaked material is ignited in a small cup or jar. After the flame is extinguished, the cup is placed over the skin and the resulting suction forces the tissue into the mouth of the cup. The cup is left in place for approximately twenty minutes. Cupping results in a 2-inch circular, unraised, ecchymotic burn. Wounds usually are produced in symmetrical, vertical rows, in clusters of two and four on the right and left side of the chest, abdomen, and back, or in smaller groupings on the forehead.
Custody – In law, the right to care and control of a child and the duty to provide that child’s food, clothing, shelter, ordinary medical care, education, and discipline. Parents are the natural custodians of their child. However a court may grant temporary custody to someone other than a parent, pending further action or review by the court.
Cutaneous – Pertaining to the skin.
Cyanosis – Purplish or bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes, caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood.
Death – The cessation of life, manifested in people by a loss of heart beat, absence of spontaneous breathing, and the permanent loss of brain function; loss of life. See Fatality.
Death Certificate – Official document noting the cause and mode of death. See Cause, Mode, and Fetal Death Certificate.
Death Scene Investigation – An attempt by a person functioning in an official capacity to gather information at the site where a fatal illness, injury, or event occurred, for the purpose of determining the cause and circumstance of the death.
Defendant – In civil proceedings, the party responding to the complaint brought by the plaintiff. In criminal proceedings, the person accused of a crime, synonymous with accused.
Dehydration – A large loss of fluid from the body tissues. It may occur after any condition in which there is a rapid loss of body fluids, including fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in infants and young children.
Dependency Court – Specialized civil court designated to hear matters pertaining to child abuse/neglect. See Criminal Court, Family Court or Child Welfare Court).
Depression – In psychology, a mood disorder in which there are extreme feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, inadequacy, or sadness.
Dermis – Inner layer of skin.
Diaper Rash – A skin irritation in the diaper area. Possible causes include yeast infections, bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, parasitic infestations, contact irritation from soaps or diaper wipes, infrequent diaper changes or poor hygiene.
Diaphysis – The shaft (long, thin part) of a long bone which is between two flared ends.
Differential Diagnosis – The determination of which two or more diseases with similar symptoms is the one from which the patient is suffering. For example, osteogenesis is a differential diagnosis for child abuse.
Discipline – Behavior that educates and corrects or punishes.
Disposition – In Child Protective Services, the finding of the validity of a report of child maltreatment that is made by the caseworker after investigation, disposition categories vary from state to state.
Disposition Hearing – In child welfare court cases, a court hearing which determines whether a child needs or requires the court’s assistance, guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation and, if so, the nature of that assistance, guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation.
Disposition Review – In a child welfare court case, a hearing in which the court reviews the child’s case to ensure that a permanency plan is being implemented in the child’s best interest.
Dissociation – In psychology, the separation of thought or feeling from consciousness, e.g., when a sexual abuse victim “pulls away” from the cognitive and emotional experience of the abuse. “Multiple Personality Disorder” is a severe and rare outcome of dissociation.
Distal – The parts of the body, limbs, or organs, that are farthest from the trunk or point of origin.
Due Process of Law – The right of persons under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to procedural and substantive fairness in situations in which the government would deprive the person of life, liberty, or property.
Dura Mater – The tough fibrous membrane covering the brain and the spinal cord.
Ecchymosis – See Bruise.
Ecological - In the behavioral and social sciences, refers to the consideration of the interaction of personal, physical, behavioral, social, cultural, medical, economic, environmental and systemic determinants when analyzing the behavior of individuals, families, groups and systems.
Edema – Swelling caused by an excess of fluid in the body tissues.
Eligible Death – Death meeting the criteria for review including death resulting from SIDS, unintentional injuries, intentional injuries, medical conditions when unattended by a physician, or any manner that is suspicious or unusual.
Emergency Medical Services – The complete chain of human physical resources that provide patient care in cases of sudden illness or injury.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) – A professional provider of emergency care. An EMT receives formal training and certification. There are three levels of emergency medical technicians.
• EMT Basic – Can administer oxygen and initiate defibrillation but is not allowed to perform any type of invasive care.
• EMT Intermediate – Has passed specific training programs in order to provide some level of advanced life support, for example, the initiation of intravenous lines and administration of some medications. In some states this level is currently being phased out.
• EMT Paramedic – Has successfully completed paramedic training and has received appropriate certification. EMT paramedics can generally perform relatively invasive field care including insertion of endotracheal tubes, initiation of intravenous lines, administration of medications, interpretation of electrocardiograms, and cardiac defibrillation.
Emergency Removal Hearing – An immediate hearing held by the child welfare court which determines whether to continue emergency out-of-home placement for an allegedly maltreated child. State laws vary on the time by which the hearing must be held after the child has been removed from the home in an emergency. Synonymous with shelter hearing.
Emotional Maltreatment – Passive or active patterned, nonnurturing behavior by a parent or caretaker that negatively affects or handicaps a child emotionally, psychologically, physically, intellectually, socially, or developmentally. The definition can vary by state.
Encopresis – Uncontrolled or involuntary bowel movements.
Enuresis – Uncontrolled or involuntary passage or urine.
Environmental – Pertaining to all of the many factors that affect the life of a person, including physical and psychological.
Epidemiology – The study of the spread, prevention, and control of disease in a community or a group of persons.
Epidermis – The outer most skin layer.
Epiphysis – The rounded ends of a long bone.
Evidence – In law, something that makes another thing evident or tends to prove that a fact at issue is true.
• Circumstantial – Evidence of a fact from which another fact can reasonably be inferred.
• Direct – Evidence which is presented in the testimony of a witness who has direct knowledge of the fact being proved.
• Hearsay – An out of court statement intended to prove the truth of the matter being asserted. Hearsay evidence is usually excluded from court proceedings because it is considered unreliable and because the person making the original statement cannot be cross-examined.
• Opinion – Witnesses are ordinarily not permitted to testify as to their personal beliefs or opinions, being restricted instead to reporting what they actually saw or heard. However, a witness can give an opinion if qualified as an expert. See Expert Witness.
• Physical – Any tangible piece of proof. Physical evidence usually must be authenticated by a witness who testifies to the connection of the evidence (called an exhibit) with other facts of the case.
• Prima Facie – Evidence that will suffice as proof of the fact in issue until its effect is overcome by other evidence.
Examination – In law, the questioning of a witness.
Expert Witness – Someone the court determines to have expertise on a subject (does not necessarily require any graduate degree). The witness may qualify as an expert through experience, training, or education. Only an expert witness may testify in the form of opinion.
Expungement – Destruction of records. In law, expungement may be ordered by a court after a specified number of years or when the juvenile, parent, or defendant applies for expungement and shows that his/her conduct has improved. In child welfare, expungement also means the removal from the Central Registry of certain reports of abuse or neglect.
Extremity – Portion of the body that is not a part of the trunk (e.g., arms, legs).
Failure to Thrive – A medical condition seen in young children where a child does not gain weight. It may be associated with a decrease in the rate of growth or in a growth rate that is significantly below norm. The cause may be organic (natural) or non-organic, such as poor nutrition, inadequate food intake, or inappropriate formula preparation.
Family Court – Court designated to hear matters pertaining to family law (e.g., divorce and child custody). See Child Welfare Court.
Family Dynamics – Interrelationships between and among individual family members. The evaluation of family dynamics is an important factor in the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of child abuse and neglect.
Family Dysfunction – Ineffective functioning of the family as a unit or of individual family members in their family roles because of the physical, mental, or situational problems of one or more family members.
Family Preservation Services – Services provided which support the principle that a child should be maintained in the family if the child’s safety can be ensured.
Family Reunification Services – Services which support the principle that the preferred permanency plan for a child in foster care is the return to the family if the child’s safety can be ensured.
Fatality Loss of life. See Death.
Felony – Generally, any criminal offence for which the penalty is imprisonment for more than one year. Murder, rape, and armed robbery are crimes usually considered felonies.
Felony Murder – See Homicide.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – A congenital syndrome caused by intrauterine exposure to alcohol. Characteristics include intra and axtrauterine growth retardation, microcephaly (small head), and mental retardation.
Fetal Death (Common) Death of pregnancy after approximately 20 weeks.
Fetal Death Certificate Official document noting the death of a fetus (note does not include a space for mode of death.) See Mode of Death.
Fetal Homicide – (Legal) The death of a viable fetus caused by competent intent. See Viable Fetus.
Fingering – See Spooning.
Fontanelle (Fontanel) – The two soft areas (“soft spots”) on the head of an infant where the bones are not yet joined. One soft spot disappears at about two months and the other at about eighteen months of age. A “bulging fontanelle” may indicate increased pressure in the skull.
Forensic – Having to do with the study of criminal acts.
Forensic Pathologist – A pathologist with training in criminal pathology. See Board Certified.
Form 1 – A standardized form required for collecting data on all child fatalities by coroners or medical examiners.
Foster Care – Placement for children under dependency court jurisdiction (note this includes single family homes, group homes with no more than six children, or institutions with many children). Includes continuous 24-hour care and supportive services provided for a child while the child needs substitute care outside of the child’s family.
Foster Care Review Board (Citizen’s Review Board) – A volunteer panel of citizens that reviews the cases of children who have been in foster care under public agency for at least six months. Boards generally seek to determine the efforts that have been made to achieve permanent and stable placements for foster children and to encourage and facilitate the implementation of permanency plans in their best interest.
Foster Care Services – In most states, the entity that provides services to children and families when a child is in foster care.
Foster Family Home – A type of foster care that is provided in a family setting.
Fracture – Any break of crack in bone or cartilage.
• Basilar Skull – A fracture to the base of the skull which will often result in spinal fluid leaking from the nose or ear.
• Bucket Handle Tears – Total fracture of a long bone so that it is floating loose.
• Chip – A small piece of bone is separated from the main body of the bone; avulsion fracture.
• Comminuted – A bone broken into a number of pieces.
• Compound – A broken bone that protrudes through the skin.
• Egg Shell – A fracture of the skull that looks like a broken egg on an x-ray.
• Greenstick – The bone is bent and there is an incomplete fracture in the convex side of the curve. Common among young children.
• Incomplete – The line of the fracture does not include the entire bone.
• Occult – A fracture that is not visible on x-ray.
• Pathologic – A fracture occurring at a site weakened by a preexisting disease, as seen in osteogenesis imperfecta, tumors, or Gaucher’s Disease.
• Simple – A break in a bone without displacement of the bone pieces.
• Spiral – A break in a long bone which is spiral shape, resulting from twisting of the extremity.
Gaucher’s Disease – A rare, familial disease in infants, which may cause fractures. Gaucher’s Disease is a differential diagnosis for child abuse.
Gluteal – Referring to the buttock.
Good Cause Removal – A cause which bears a reasonable relationship to an individual’s unfitness to discharge the duties assigned or is in a reasonable sense detrimental to the interest or purpose to the Child Death Review Team.
Gross Examination – In medicine, a physical examination without the aid of radiologic instruments or surgical entry.
Group Home – A type of foster care in which care is provided in a small group setting.
Guardian – An adult who is legally responsible for a child. A guardian has almost all the rights and powers of a parent, but the legal relationship is subject to termination and change. A guardian may also have physical custody of the child.
Guardian ad litem – A lawyer or non-lawyer who represents the best interest of a child in a child welfare court proceeding.
Hematemesis – Vomiting of bright red blood, often resulting from internal injury.
Hematoma – Swelling caused by the accumulation of blood in the body tissues.
• Intramural of the Duodenum – A hematoma occurring in the wall of the duodenum. Occurs only from trauma.
Hematuria – Blood in the urine.
Hemophilia – An inherited disorder of the blood in which there is a defect in its ability to clot, resulting in a tendency to hemorrhage.
Hemorrhage – Bleeding.
• Intra-abdominal – bleeding within the abdomen.
• Intracerebral – Bleeding within the brain.
• Intracranial – Bleeding within the skull.
• Intradermal – Bleeding within the skin. See Bruise.
• Retinal – Bleeding into the inner lining of the eye, hallmark of whiplash and Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Hemostaiss Screen – A laboratory study pefomred to determine whether or not a child has a bleeding or bruising tendency.
Hepatic – Pertaining to the liver.
Homicide (official – criminal justice) – Death caused by another with the intent to kill or severely injure. (See Child Abuse and Neglect – Fatal).
• Murder – The unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought requires premeditated intent plus an element of hatred.
• Felony Murder – The unintentional killing of a human being during the commission of a felony.
• Manslaughter – An unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought.
• Voluntary Manslaughter – An intentional killing committed under circumstances which, although they do not justify the homicide, mitigate it.
• Involuntary Manslaughter – Criminally negligent homicide, such as a death resulting from the negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Homicide (common but not official) – Death at the hands of another (without reference to intent).
Homicide (Vital Statistics) – International Classification of Diseases (CodesE960-E969) - deaths due to “injuries inflicted by another person with intent to injure or kill by any means (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 1989, p. 1042).
Homicide Detective (Investigator) – A police or sheriff department investigator with an expertise in homicide investigations.
Hospital Shopping – The use by a person or family of different medical facilities so that each individual medical facility’s sole contact with the person or family is a single presenting injury.
Hydrocephalus – “Water on the Brain,” in infants, an accumulation of fluid in the subarachnoid or subdural spaces of the brain.
Hyperactive – More active than normal. The term becomes synonymous with Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADDH or ADHD or ADD), that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
Hyperemia – An excess of blood in a part of the body causing reddening of the skin; it disappears when pressure is applied.
Hyperpigmentation – Increased pigmentation of the skin.
Hyperthermia – High body temperature.
Hyphema – Hemorrhaging into the anterior chamber of the eye, often appearing as a bloodshot eye. Blows to the head or violent shaking are two possible causes. See Hemorrhage-Retinal.
Hypoactive – Less active than normal.
Hypothermia – Low body temperature.
Hypothalamus – The portion of the brain which controls and integrates functions such as general regulation of water balance, body temperature, sleep, food intake, and the development of secondary sex characteristics.
Hypovitaminosis – A condition caused by a deficiency of one or more essential vitamins.
Idealization – In psychology, attributing exaggerated positive qualities to self or other, e.g., a child may idealize an absent or abusive parent.
Identification – In psychology, increasing feelings of worth by identifying oneself with a person or institution of illustrious standing.
Identification with the Aggressor – In psychology, a defense mechanism consisting of imitation of the aggressor.
Impassivity – A state of not feeling or showing emotion.
Incest – Sexual intercourse between persons who are closely related by blood. While incest between parent and child or siblings is almost universally forbidden, various cultures may extend the boundaries to prohibit intercourse with other relatives. In the U.S., the prohibition against incest is specified by state laws as well as by cultural tradition. States usually define incest as marriage or sexual relationships between relatives who are closer than second, or sometimes even more distant, cousins. While incest and sexual abuse are often thought to be synonymous, incest is only one type of sexual abuse.
Incidence – In epidemiology, the extent to which a problem occurs in a given population.
Independent Living – A possible permanency plan for a child in foster care in which the goal is self-sufficiency after discharge from foster care.
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) – A federal law which specifies the manner in which child welfare agencies and child welfare courts must handle cases involving Native American and Alaska Native Children.
Infant – Child under one year of age. See Neonate.
Infanticide – The killing of an infant or of many infants.
Injury – Refers to any force whether it be physical, chemical, thermal, or electrical that results in harm or death.
Intentional Injury Death – Public health term used to define death caused by another with the intent to cause harm. See Competent Intent.
Intern – Student trainee, also refers to a physician’s first year of work after medical school.
Intent – Desire to cause to happen. See Competent Intent.
Intraocular – Within the eye.
Intravenous –Within a vein.
Judgement – The court’s final decision.
Jurisdiction – A court’s authority over the subject matter, the person, and the rendering of a particular order or judgement.
Juvenile Court – See Child Welfare Court.
Kinship Care (Relative Placement) – Residential caregiving provided to children by nonparental relatives. Kinship care may be full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, and may be initiated by private family agreement or under the custodial supervision of a child welfare agency.
Laceration – A torn or jagged wound caused causing a splitting or tearing in the external skin surface in addition to the deep tissue.
Language Delay – A situation in which a child’s language abilities are considerably poorer than the abilities of most children of the same age.
Lateral – Occurring on, or pertaining to, the side.
Lesion – Any injury to any part of the body from any cause that results in damage or loss of structure or function of the body tissue involved. A lesion may be caused by poison, infection, dysfunction, or violence, and may be either intentional or unintentional.
Lethargy – A state marked by loss of energy, inactivity, sluggishness, or excessive drowsiness.
Leukemia – A malignant disease of blood forming elements. Children suffering from leukemia may present petechiae or bleeding which should be considered in the differential diagnosis of children who bruise easily.
Listserv – Computerized one-to-many electronic mail system that allows individuals to share information with a group.
Local Child Death Review Team – A Child Death Review Team that operates within a specific area within a state, i.e., county, reservation, or other geographical area. See Multidisciplinary Team.
Long Bones – Bones of the arms (ulna, radius, numerous) and legs (femur, tibia, fibula).
Malnutrition – A condition caused by inadequate nourishment.
Maltreatment – See Child Abuse and Neglect.
Mandated Agency – The agency designated by state law to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. The specific agency varies from state to state.
Mandated Reporters – Persons designated by state law who are legally responsible for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect to the mandated agency within their state. Mandated reporters vary according to state law, but are primarily professionals, such as doctors, nurses, school personnel, and social workers who have frequent contact with children and families.
Mandible – The bone of the lower jaw.
Manner of Death – The legal classification, whether natural, suicide, homicide, accidental, or undetermined.
Manslaughter – See Homicide.
Master – A person appointed by a court in certain cases to hear testimony and make reports that, if approved by the court, become the decision of the court. In some states, masters may hear child welfare court cases. Also referred to as referee or commissioner.
Mechanism of Death – The physical reason for a death (e.g., head trauma caused brain swelling which caused decreased brain function which caused the heart and/or lungs to stop functioning).
Medial – Towards the middle or mid-line.
Medical Cause – Refers to death resulting from a natural cause other than SIDS.
Medical Examiner – An official whose duty it is to investigate sudden, suspicious, or violent death to determine the cause. See Coroner.
Medical Neglect – Generally, the repeated failure of parents or caretakers to comply with recommendations from medical professionals for the treatment of a child’s condition. Individual states may define the term differently.
Menkes Kinky Hair Syndrome – A rare, genetic disorder which blocks absorption of copper in the gastrointestinal system, causing brittle bones and eventual death. It is a differential diagnosis for child abuse.
Mesentery – Membranes which cover abdominal organs and attach the bowel to the abdominal wall. The mesentery may be injured in interabdominal trauma or inflames, as with peritonitis.
Metaphysis – The area of bone between the epiphyses (extremities) and diaphysis (shaft) which flares out at the end of long bones. It contains the growth zone of the bone.
Minor – See Child.
Misdemeanor – Criminal offenses that are less severe than felonies and generally punished by lesser fines or by jail terms which do not exceed a year.
Mode or Manner of Death – Official category for a death certificate (homicide, suicide, undetermined, accidental, natural).
Mongolian Spot – A type of birthmark that appears most frequently on a child’s lower back or buttocks. These dark pigmented areas usually fade by age five. They are sometimes confused with bruises.
Multidisciplinary Team – In child welfare, a group of professionals representing various disciplines who meet to coordinate their efforts in diagnosing and treating specific cases of child abuse and neglect. A multidisciplinary team may also address the general problem of child abuse and neglect in their community. See Local Child Death Review Team.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy – A pattern of abuse in which the perpetrator, usually a parent, will fabricate medical histories, inflict physical findings, alter laboratory specimens and induce disorders in a child to give the appearance that the child is ill.
Murder – See Homicide.
National Crime Information Center (NCIC) – Criminal justice information systems operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C.
Natural Cause – Death resulting from inherent, existing conditions. Natural causes include congenital anomalies, disease, other medical causes, and SIDS.
Neglect – See Child Neglect.
Negligence – In the law, doing something that a person of ordinary prudence would not do, or the failure to do something that a person of ordinary prudence would do, under given circumstances.
Neonate – Infant under one month of age.
Neurologic Sequelae – A diseased condition of the nervous system resulting from previous disease. In abused children, the condition may result from previous abuse.
Non-Intentional Injury Death – Public health term to replace accidental death.
Occipital – Back of the head.
Ossification – The process during which immature or new bone or cartilage is converted into bone.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta – A genetic condition which causes bone to be brittle and prone to fracture. It is a differential diagnosis for child abuse.
Osteomyelitis – Inflammation of bone caused by a bacterial organism.
Paralysis – Complete or partial loss of functioning, usually involving motor function in a part of the body.
Paramedic – See EMT-Paramedic.
Parens Patriae – “Parent of the country.” Refers to the role of the state as sovereign and the guardian of persons under legal disability. It is through parens patriae that the state investigates possible child abuse and neglect, and places a child in foster care.
Passive – In psychology, not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling.
Pathognomonic – Specifically distinctive or characteristic of a disease or pathologic condition; a sign or symptom on which a diagnosis can be made.
Pathologist Physician with residency training in pathology. See Forensic Pathologist, Pediatric Pathologist and Forensic Pediatric Pathologist.
Pediatrician – Physician who has completed residency training in pediatrics.
Pediatric Pathologist – Physician with special training in pediatrics and pathology. See Board Certified.
Perinatal – The period of time from around the twenty-eighth week of gestation through the first seven days after delivery.
Perineum – Region of the body between the anus and the genitals.
Periodic Review – In child welfare, the six-month review of cases of children in out-of home care required by Public Law 96-272 and state law.
Periosteal Elevation (Hemorrhage) – The tearing away or lifting up of the bone's covering, from the hemorrhaging that occurs when a bone is broken or there has been bleeding under the periosteum. This is not necessarily indicative of child abuse as it can be due to leukemia or infiltrative disease such as tumors or inflammation. It may be present at birth from a difficult delivery.
Periosteum – The outer covering of bones that is essential for bone formation and healing.
Peritoneum – The lining of the abdomen.
Peritonitis – Inflammation of the membranous lining of the abdominal cavity.
Perjury – Knowingly and willfully giving false testimony under oath.
Permanency Plan – In child welfare, a plan for implementing the most permanent long-term living situation possible for a child, consistent with the child’s best interest. This plan specifies where and with whom a foster care child shall live, and the proposed legal relationship between the child and the permanent caretaker or caretakers.
Permanency Planning – The process by which a welfare agency with responsibility for the child in foster care develops a permanency plan for a child.
Perpetrator – In child welfare, a person(s) who committed an act that resulted in the death of a child.
Petechiae – See Hemorrhage – Intradermal.
Petition – In the law, a formal, written request to the court that it do something. The petition is a pleading that begins a court case. It contains the facts and circumstances upon which a court is asked to provide certain relief as well as the relief being sought.
Physical Abuse – See Child Abuse.
Pia Mater – The fine vascular membrane that envelopes the brain and spinal cord. It is located below the arachnoid and the dura mater.
Plaintiff – In a civil case, the person who files a lawsuit.
Pleadings – In the law, formal allegations of the claim and defenses raised by the parties to the court case.
Posterior – In human anatomy, the back surface of the body.
Postpartum Depression – Depression which may occur after child birth.
Premature Infant – An infant born after thirty-seven weeks gestation by before full term and, arbitrarily, an infant weighing 2.2 - 2.5 pounds at birth. This definition varies.
Prenatal – Occurring before birth.
Preventable Death – A child’s death is considered to be preventable if the community (through legislation, education, etc.) or an individual (through reasonable precaution, supervision, or action) could have done that which could have changed the circumstances that led to the death.
Prevention – In public health, the keeping of something (such as an illness) from happening. There are three general levels of care designed for prevention:
• Primary – The first level of care, designed to prevent the occurrence of disease and promote health.
• Secondary – The second level of care, based on the earliest possible identification of disease so that it can be more readily treated or managed and adverse sequelae can be prevented.
• Tertiary – The third level of care, concerned with promotion of independent function and prevention of further disease-related deterioration.
Probable Cause – In the law, a requisite element of a valid search and seizure or of an arrest, which consists of the existence of facts and circumstances within one’s knowledge that are sufficient to warrant the belief that a crime has been committed (in the context of an arrest) or that property subject to seizure is at a designated location (in the context of a search and seizure). Whether probable cause exists depends of the independent judgement of a “detached magistrate.”
Prosecution – The act of pursuing a lawsuit or criminal trial; also, the party initiating a criminal suit.
Proximal – Those parts of the body, or portions of the bone, that are closest to the trunk or to the point of origin.
Psychosis – In psychology, a mental disorder causing gross impairment of a person’s mental capacity, affecting response and capacity to recognize reality.
Public Law 96-272 – See Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act.
Purpura – See Hemorrhage – Intradermal.
Radiolucent – In medicine, a part of a body or object which permits the passage of x-rays without leaving a shadow on the film. Soft tissues are radiolucent, bones are not.
Rarefaction – Loss of density; on an x-ray, an area of bone which appears lighter than normal is in a state of rarefaction indicating a loss of calcium.
Rationalization – In psychology, attempting to prove that one’s behavior is “rational” and justifiable, and thus worthy of self and social approval.
Reaction Formation – In psychology, the substitution of behavior, thoughts, or feelings which are diametrically opposed to the person’s own unacceptable ones. For example, a parent feels guilty about lack of bonding with the child and instead overindulges the child.
Reasonable Effort – In child welfare, the ordinary diligence and care by a child welfare agency to identify child protection problems and provide services to solve those problems so as to prevent out-of-home placement or promote family reunification.
Reconsideration – In child welfare, the process of periodically reassessing and redeveloping the permanency and case plans.
Records Request Form – Standardized forms, which generally are state approved, for requesting records on individual cases.
Recurrent Otitis Media – Repeated inflammation of the middle ear. It is the leading cause of hearing loss in children.
Referee – See Master.
Regression – In psychology, retreating to an earlier developmental level involving less mature responses and, usually, a lower level of aspiration.
Regulation – For a governmental agency, directions for the operation of the agency, developed by the agency to implement its statutory responsibilities. Regulations have the force and effect of law when issued following notice to the public and an opportunity for the public comment.
Relative Placement – See Kinship Care.
Repression – In psychology, a defense mechanism in which the person is unable to remember disturbing feelings, thoughts, or experiences.
Reporting (By law – Child Death) – Comminication among professionals, which includes data reports: Child Abuse and Neglect Reports, FBI-UCR-SHR Reports (Federal Bureau of Investigation-Uniform Crime Report-Supplemental Homicide Report), Coroner’s Reports, Vital Statistics, State CACI, CWS/CMS, Auto Accidents, etc. (See homicide).
Resident – In medicine, a post-intern trainee in an official training program (e.g., pediatrics).
Retinal hemorrhage – Bleeding in the retina of the eye.
Reviewable Death – Death which has been reported as having met criteria for review by the Child Death Review Team, whether or not the review has yet been completed and reported.
Reviewed Death – Death which has been reviewed by a local Child Death Review Team; a report completed and submitted to the State Child Death Review Team.
Rickets – Condition of delaying maturation of the bones caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. May be seen with severe malnutrition, hypoparathyroidism, and renal disease.
Risk Assessment – A structured gathering and evaluation of information related to factors in a child’s family, home environment, temperament, and conditions, to determine the presence, level, and type of risk(s) to the child’s current and future safety and welfare. As relevant factors change, risk assessment must therefore be conducted over the life of a case.
Risk Factors – Refers to a person, thing, event, etc., that put an individual at an increased likelihood of incurring injury, disability or death.
Rubella – An infectious viral disease with particular effects on fetuses (possibly causing abnormalities) or newborn infants. One of the early manifestations may be petechiae or easy bruising. There also may be associated bone lesions that may be confused with child abuse.
Rupture – The break of an organ or other soft part.
Sacral Area – Lower part of the back.
Scapula – The flat, triangular bone in the back of the shoulder; the shoulder blade.
Scar – The dense, fibrous tissue that is left behind by the healing of injured tissue.
Sclera – The rough white outer layer of the eyeball.
Search Warrant – An order issued by a judge and directing certain law enforcement officers to conduct a search of specified premises for specified things or persons, and to bring them before the court. Use of a search warrant is required by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Secondary Infection – Infection by a microorganism following an infection by another microorganism.
Seizure – Involuntary muscular contraction and relaxation originating from the “short circuit” of the central nervous system. Seizures vary in pattern, length, and intensity. Causes include fever, tumors, injuries, or epilepsy.
Sequelae – The aftereffects of an injury or disease process. In child abuse, this term usually refers to the psychological or physical outcomes which result from being abused or neglected.
Serology – The study of blood serum for evidence of infection.
Sexual Abuse – See Child Sexual Abuse.
Sexually Transmitted Disease (Infection) (STD or STI) – Disease transmitted by sexual contact, including chlamydia, trichomonas, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV. The presence of a STD in a child is an indicator of possible sexual abuse. However some STDs are passed on to the fetus during pregnancy or at birth.
Shaken Baby Syndrome – Characterization of head injuries to a young child caused by shaking without impact. Injury to an infant or child resulting from violent, repetitive shaking. Pathognomonic findings include intracranial hemorrhaging, retinal hemorrhaging, and no cutaneous manifestations of injury. Survivors are frequently left with profound neurologic sequelae, e.g., blindness, deafness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and seizures.
Shaken Impact Syndrome – Characterization of head injuries to a young child occurring with both shaking and impact. Different from Shaken Baby Syndrome which does not include impact.
Shelter Hearing – See Emergency Removal Hearing.
Skeletal Series of X-rays – Defined series of x rays designed to find most fractures. See Baby Gram.
Skeletal Survey – A series of x-rays taken of all the bones of the body.
Smothering – Specifically refers to asphyxiation of the nose and mouth usually by a hand or soft object. Mechanical asphyxia resulting from external pressure on the body preventing chest movement and breathing.
Social Isolation – The limited interaction and contact of many abusing or neglecting parents with relatives, neighbors, friends, or community resources. Social isolation can perpetuate a basic lack of trust, which hinders both the identification and the treatment of child abuse and neglect.
Somatization – In psychology, a pathology in which a person becomes preoccupied with physical symptoms disproportionate to any actual physical disturbance. May be seen in victims of sexual abuse.
Splitting – In psychology, a defense mechanism in which a person views self and others as all good or all bad, failing to integrate the positive and the negative qualities of self and others into cohesive images. Often the person alternately idealizes and devalues the same person.
Spooning (Fingering) – A folk remedy from Southeast Asia for pain relief. The middle knuckle of the index finger or a spoon is firmly rubbed along the surface of the skin in any area of an ill person’s body, especially along the spine, behind the knees, in the bend of both arms, and on the chest from just above the nipple to mid-clavicle. If a raised line appears, no further treatment it necessary.
Standard of Proof – An amount of probability necessary for court to render a decision regarding the evidence presented to it. There are three different standards of proof.
• Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – The amount of probability required to find a criminal defendant guilty. The proof must be so conclusive and complete that the ordinary person could not reasonably deny it.
• Clear and Convincing Evidence – An amount of probability less than beyond a reasonable doubt but more than probable cause. It is used in some civil cases, including termination of parental rights cases. The proof must produce a firm belief of truth to the trier of the fact.
• Preponderance of Evidence – The amount of proof required in most civil cases, including child welfare cases (except for termination of parental rights proceedings). The proof must be more likely than not.
State Child Death Review Team – An appointed body of representatives that oversees the local child death review process, reports to the governor annually on the incidence of child fatalities, and recommends prevention measures based on the data. See Child Death Review Teams.
Statute – A law passed by a legislative body.
Sternum – The bone that runs down the front part of the chest; the breast bone.
Stillborn – Potentially viable fetus born dead.
Strangulation – Asphyxia caused by external pressure applied to the neck either by the use of hands or a ligature (rope).
Subarachnoid Bleeding – Bleeding that occurs between the pia and the arachnoid membrane of the central nervous system.
Subcutaneous – Beneath the skin.
Subdural hematoma – Bleeding between the internal lining of the skull and the brain.
Subgaleal – The inner lining of the scalp. A site of hemorrhage frequently secondary to hair pulling.
Subpoena – In the law, a command to appear at a certain time and place, on a certain date, and the give testimony on a certain matter.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – Sudden death of an infant which is unexpected by clinical history review, death scene investigation and in which a thorough postmortem examination, including autopsy, fails to demonstrate an adequate cause. A diagnosis of exclusion made when there is no underlying cause of death can be identified. It is not caused by abuse or neglect.
Suffocation – Asphyxia caused by a general deprivation of oxygen either from obstruction of external airways or lack of breathable gas in the environment.
Suicide – Death of self caused with intent. See Intent.
Summons – In the law, a document used to commence a civil action or special processing. A summons is issued by a court to the sheriff (or other designated official), requiring them to notify the person named that an action has been commenced against the person and that the person is required to appear on a day named and answer the complaint.
Syndrome – A group of signs and symptoms that occur together and are typical of a particular disorder or disease.
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) – A legal process that severs the legal relationship between parents and the child and vests authority in the child welfare agency. The TPR order places the child in the guardianship of the child welfare agency and gives the agency the right to consent to adoption or long-term care short of adoption.
Testimony – Evidence given by a competent witness under oath or affirmation, as distinguished from evidence derived from written or other sources.
Thorax – Chest area, encompassing the heart, lungs, and ribs.
Torsion – Twisting, as of a limb.
Tracking (Child Deaths) – Following cases over time and/or geography
Traction – Drawing or pulling, as in setting a bone.
Trauma – An injury or wound brought about by an outside force. Trauma may be caused unintentionally, or, as in physical abuse, intentionally. Trauma also refers to physiological discomfort or symptoms resulting from an emotional shock or painful experience.
Trend – In child death surveillance, refers to the changes occurring in the number and distribution of child deaths.
Undetermined Death – Death where the mode of death is not clear. (See Mode of Death. Also see Child Abuse and Neglect – Fatal, and Homicide).
Unsupervised Death – Death which data suggests that the decedent may not have had adequate supervision at the time of the fatal injury or death event. Defining variables include reports that the event was unwitnessed, that the caretaker was asleep at the time (except under normal sleeping hours), or that there was no adult caretaker present.
Unintentional Death – Refers to the act that resulted in death being one that was not deliberate, willful, or planned.
Vascular – Pertaining to or containing blood vessels.
Venereal Disease – See Sexually Transmitted Disease.
Venue – Related to the locality of the court or courts, which possess jurisdiction.
Vertical Team Prosecution – A prosecution in which every member of the prosecution team is the same throughout the trial.
Vesicle – Blisters containing fluid.
Viable Fetus – A fetus that would be able to live outside the uterus if born as defined by experts.
Victims of Crime Fund – Money available to serve crime victims through a federal and/or state program with local officials having responsibility for distribution of funds.
Visceral – Pertaining to the internal organs.
Vital Signs – Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.
Vitreous – The material that encloses the major portion of the eye, which is normally clear. With an eye injury there may be hemorrhaging and the area may turn red.
Welt – Minor damage to the skin or to the blood vessels directly underneath the skin caused by a blow or a cut. Does not involve bleeding.
Whiplash – See Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Witness – A person who has first-hand knowledge of the illness/injury/event leading to injury, disability or death. This excludes information obtained from other persons. A person inflicting injury on a child or identified as a perpetrator is not considered a witness. The witness may or may not be in charge or providing immediate care for the child and may or may not have custody of the child. First-hand knowledge usually includes seeing or hearing the illness/injury/event occur.
Wound Pattern – Wounds that are close together, similar size and shape, and inflicted in the same area of the body.