Massive fall in child abuse deaths linked to new protection policies (UK)

Independent (UK) Thursday, 5 May 2011

Child deaths from abuse have fallen dramatically over the past 30 years, new figures show. With social workers frequently vilified after the death of a child at the hands of adult guardians, the findings – published in Archives of Disease in Childhood – act as tribute to the success of child protection policies and those who implement them. Researchers have found that deaths among children because of assault have fallen from an average of three a week in 1974 to one a week in 2008.

Peter Sidebotham, of the University of Warwick, who led the study, said: “Since the Maria Colwell inquiry in 1974 social workers have identified those families really at risk, the child protection register was set up and the protection of vulnerable children has been formalised. At the same time there has been a growing public awareness of the risks to young children, their physical vulnerability and the need to support vulnerable families such as teenage mothers. It is a whole combination of factors that have contributed to the fall in death rates.”