Crusader Against Child Abuse Wants Victims To Speak Up

AURORA, Colo. (CBS) – He has worked to end child abuse for decades, but has seen little change. Now, Dr. Richard Krugman is co-founder of a foundation he hopes can finally make strides in tackling this national problem.

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Krugman wants to see victims become advocates. He wants child abuse and neglect to be a health, mental health and public health concern.

It’s estimated five children die from child abuse in the U.S. every day.

“The number’s been about that for 40 years. We haven’t made any progress,” said Krugman.

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Richard Krugman. (credit: CBS)

That is the sad reality from the pediatrician and long-time crusader for children. He was a protege of Dr. Henry Kempe, the first to recognize The Battered Child Syndrome.

Krugman remembers the first fatal abuse case he studied in 1968.

“Twenty-five professionals had been in contact with this mother and baby,” he said. “There were warning signs of abuse along the way and everybody ignored them.”

Krugman calls that “gaze aversion.”

“G-a-z-e, turning away from a problem,” he explained.

And Krugman says it still exists today.

“There’s so much shame and stigma around child abuse that nobody wants to talk about it,” he explained.

Dr. Richard Krugman and Lori Poland. (credit: CBS)

But Krugman is trying to change that. Eighteen months ago, he joined forces with former patient, Lori Poland, who in 1983 survived being abducted and sexually abused and left to die in an abandoned outhouse.

EndCAN, their National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect, urges survivors to speak up.

“The way we now can about alcohol or breast cancer or eating disorders,” Krugman said.

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He believes research, education, training, prevention and advocacy are the answer.

“People say you’ll never end it in our lifetime. If we all work together we can do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, he’s doing all he can to drive his message home. His Colorado license plate reads … NOABUSE.