Does family support ensure the protection of children? Messages from child protection research

Brian Littlechild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The history of child protection is, in many ways, a catalogue of changes arising from the political/professional interface tensions relating to a highly contentious area of public and professional policy. The latest contribution to this process is the Department of Health's 1995 publication Child Protection: Messages from Research. The overview of the studies recommends that there be a shift in resources and attitudes from an investigative approach to a family support perspective. Many local authorities have subsequently produced policies which will lead to referrals being recorded as ‘children in need’ rather than child protection. The ramifications of this change in approach are examined from the dual perspectives of policy and practice. The article suggests that while much of the change in emphasis is to be welcomed, the needs of the most severely abused children may be compromised by the new orthodoxy, as it is not based on the reality of the many problems encountered by children and professionals in child protection work. It is argued that a focus on practice issues needs to permeate all such documents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-128
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Child protection
  • Children's rights
  • Family support


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