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Preventing child death from maltreatment


Preventing child death from maltreatment

Global impact: Social Work research 4th in the UK Global impact: Social Work research 4th in the UK

Our Social Work research has gained a global reputation for its relevancy and impact on both practitioners and policy makers.

Results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) rank the School of Social Work 4th in the UK for overall research with 90% of research ranked “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”.

The School of Social Work is an internationally respected, leading academic department dedicated to excellence in research.

Case study: Preventing child death from maltreatment

Internationally recognised efforts to reduce child deaths and injury are at the heart of UEA’s Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF), which is active in analysing Serious Case Reviews and informing major child protection policy and practice reviews.

Research by Prof Marian Brandon and colleagues from UEA’s School of Social Work has helped to create the largest national database of analyses of suspected child abuse or neglect that resulted in death or serious injury. These efforts drew out themes and trends to inform policy and practice, in hopes of reaching vulnerable children before harm is done.

In collaboration with Dr Peter Sidebotham and colleagues from Warwick University, findings from 2009 to 2010 showed that around 85 children die in England each year as a result of abuse or neglect – believed to be the first official account showing the number of children killed each year through maltreatment.

Prof Brandon, director of the CRCF, said: “Our efforts within the CRCF continue to pinpoint where children may be at risk, and to identify opportunities for providing cross-agency support for children and families who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.

“This approach tries to understand more about the circumstances that might trigger the death or serious injury of a child, and the factors that influence the responses  of the practitioners working with the children and their families.

“We aim to use our research to have a direct positive impact on the lives of children and families.”

Another large research project conducted in 2013 by the CRCF on behalf of the NSPCC showed that neglect is not being taken seriously enough and should be treated with the same urgency as physical or sexual abuse.

Prof Brandon said: “That research did not show that where neglect is found the child is always at risk of death, but rather that everyone should be aware of how easily neglect gets sidelined.

“Professionals need to keep an open mind about the possibility of neglect having a fatal or very serious outcome for a child. But that must not stop them dealing with neglect in a confident and compassionate way – for the sake of both the child and their family.”

Since 2008, the findings of Prof Brandon and her team have informed public understanding, practitioner thinking, multi-agency child protection practice, policy and law in the UK and around the world.

The key child protection policy and practice reviews commissioned by the UK government in 2008-2013, the Laming report (2009) and the Munro Review of Child Protection (2011) have all drawn on the CRCF research.

To date, the research has produced a systematic review analysis of more than 800 cases in total.

Research was funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families/Department for Education, Department of Health and NSPCC.

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Professor Marian Brandon

Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work

Research interests

Research activity focuses on serious child maltreatment, family support and interagency working.  Professor Brandon is particularly interested in children living at home who are on the threshold of out of home care, and on the impact of parent child interaction in these circumstances. Her work considers implications for both policy and practice.  

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