Safeguarding children across services: messages from research on identifying and responding to child maltreatment: messages for health professionals working with children

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Dept. for Education
Department for Education
Date of publication
1 October 2011
Research brief DFE-RB164b
Children and Young People, Health Services
Social welfare
Material type

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Parents who abuse and neglect their children are often struggling with problems such as poor mental health, substance and alcohol misuse, and domestic abuse. Children are at particular risk of suffering harm when these problems occur in combination and are aggravated by other stressors such as parental learning disability, financial or housing problems and lack of supportive family and social networks. Professionals need to be highly alert to the potential risk of abuse and neglect to children in these families and actively make sure that children’s developmental needs are being met. This should be routine practice. This briefing contains advice for health professionals on how to identify and respond to child maltreatment. A more proactive approach is needed by health professionals where there are concerns about children which fall below local thresholds for social care intervention. A wide variety of universal and targeted approaches are available at both primary/universal level (aimed at the whole population, for example the Healthy Child Programme) and secondary level (aimed at vulnerable or “at risk” populations, for example Family Nurse Partnerships). These programmes require a co-ordinated and preventative approach from health care professionals with a focus on implementing early practical and effective help to improve the parenting of families with complex and multiple problems through public health measures.

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