Understanding the links to safeguarding and child protection

October 2012

Action to reduce the burden of accidental injury to children and young people is a public health issue and priority in its own right. However, a greater knowledge and understanding of childhood injury can also help to inform the work of professionals who encounter cases of neglect and deliberate harm.

Following a review of child protection in England (The Munro Review), the Department for Education published new draft statutory guidance for consultation in June 2012. The guidance focuses on:

  • what is expected of organisations, individually and jointly, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
  • undertaking assessments of children in need
  • proposed new arrangements for serious case reviews, reviews of child deaths and other learning led by local safeguarding children boards.

Health professionals may face difficulties in determining whether or not injuries to children have been caused accidentally. Lessons from Serious Case Reviews: year 2 (2008-2009) found neglect to be a factor in some cases of serious accidental injury to children.

More recently, understanding the meaning and origin of bruising and minor injuries in babies and toddlers emerged as a theme in New learning from serious case reviews: a two year report for 2009-2011. An understanding of children's normal motor development is essential and the 2009-11 review references CAPT's Accidents and child development practitioner guide as a key resource.

Most parents want the best for their children, and the NHS Baby LifeCheck report found that safety in the home accounted for 22% of questions asked by first-time mums with concerns about ‘doing things right’. However it may also be the case that ‘distressed parents are distracted parents’.

Useful resources

  • Our key organisations section includes an overview of Local Safeguarding Children Boards.
  • As part of its awareness campaign on child neglect, Action for Children has produced information and research evidence to highlight the complex nature and scale of safeguarding and child protection.
  • The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health has developed a strategy to support paediatricians in this sensitive area, producing child protection publications including evidence-based guidelines, training materials and communications skills training.
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners has produced a safeguarding toolkit for general practice.
  • NICE clinical guidelines on child maltreatment have been produced for those working with children and young people, both within and outside the NHS.
  • The Core-Info series of systematic reviews defines the evidence base for recognising and investigating physical child abuse. Key differences between accidental and intentional injury are described in this collaboration between the Welsh Child Protection Systematic review group and the NSPCC.
Updated June 2013