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Child Care Health Dev. 2015 Mar;41(2):186-93. doi: 10.1111/cch.12134. Epub 2014 Mar 18.

Notifications for child safeguarding from an acute hospital in response to presentations to healthcare by parents.

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  • 1Centre of Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK.



Consideration of child safeguarding is routine within maternity services but less common in other health services for adults. We audited notifications for child safeguarding from an acute general hospital where the policy includes questioning adults presenting with violence, mental health problems or drug or alcohol misuse to any department within the hospital about children at home and notifying to the local authority children's social care services if there are safeguarding concerns.


Cross-sectional audit of notifications for child safeguarding, including abuse, neglect or victimization, from all departments in one hospital to the local authority children's social care department during 12 months (2010/11).


Of 681 notifications (57 per month), 40% (270/681) were triggered by parents' presentation to acute hospital services. Of these, 37% (100/270; 12 teenage mothers) presented for maternity care and 60% (162/270; 8 teenage parents) presented to the emergency department (ED). Of the 60% (411/681) of notifications prompted by children presenting for healthcare, most originated from the ED (358/411; 87%): two-thirds of these presented with injury (250/358; 70%).


Given a policy to ask adults about children at home, a substantial proportion of children notified for child safeguarding were recognized through presentations to acute healthcare by their parents. Further research and development of this policy needs to ensure that questioning results in effective interventions for the children and their parents.


child maltreatment; child safeguarding; paediatric emergency; social care; victimization

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