Belfast Telegraph

More children on protection list

The number of children on protection registers in Northern Ireland has jumped by 18% over the past six years, it has been revealed.

The latest figures show 2,127 children were listed as being at risk last year, compared to 1,805 during 2007.

Dr Devaney from Queen's University claimed child protection services had been stretched because of the increase in demand.

He said: "There are a greater number of children being identified or referred for help. That is probably a good thing because where children are quite vulnerable it is better that someone knows about them."

Dr Devaney headed the first review of abuse cases on child death and serious injury in Northern Ireland. His team looked at 24 case reviews relating to 45 children which resulted in the death or serious injury between 2003 and 2008.

Eighteen of the cases dealt with the death of a child - four children who died as a result of a physical or sexual assault; six infants who died unexpectedly for which no cause was established; and eight adolescents who died by suicide or accident.

The remaining six cases involved a range of issues, including the serious injury of a child, the standard of care of children by their carers and how professionals worked together.

Dr Devaney found that some cases had been closed too soon because the demand for resources such as social workers and health visitors could not be met.

He said: "This is the first time a review like this has been carried out in Northern Ireland. The overall aim has been to provide better safeguards for children by establishing the facts of these cases where children have died or been seriously injured, establishing whether lessons can be learned, identifying what those lessons are and how they can be acted upon.

"Importantly this research has highlighted a number of key findings from individual case management reviews have already led to improvements in the systems and processes for supporting vulnerable families and protecting children at risk."


From Belfast Telegraph