From Metro Tues 19 April:
The number of young children needing emergency hospital treatment because of violence has risen by more than 20 per cent in a year. A total of 3,402 under-tens in England and Wales were treated by casualty departments after violence last year. This was up from 2,814 in 2009 despite a decrease in the overall number of people needing emergency treatment, according to data supplied by the units to Cardiff University. The latest increase in child cases follows an eight per cent rise between 2008 to 2009. Changes that make it more expensive to take children into care may be a factor in the increase, said the university’s Prof Jonathan Shepherd. “There may be children left in risky circumstances where they would have been taken into care before,” he explained. There were 37,000 fewer cases of people treated following violence in 2010 compared with a year earlier. Prof Shepherd said this steady decline was due to “better, more targeted policing”.
Now, I haven’t had time to look at the data behind this short article, but two things occur to me:
1 It would be rather scary if that hypothesis were to be correct (i.e. court fees and other cost related reasons) but all the evidence I’m aware of suggests that since Baby P the number of care cases issued has gone up not down – because of a general trend towards more caution.
2 My best guess would be that the increase in the stats is more likely to relate to increased awareness of Child Protection issues post Baby P, which may have resulted in more cases being identified as arising from violence at point of entry to the system (A&E). I wouldn’t accept without more information that an increase in the stats necessarily correlates to an increase in actual incidents, because it seems to me reporting practice is likely to have changed, and it may well be that A&E staff are more alert to possible NAI in the wake of Baby P. This is the only way to explain both the increase in reported incidents of violence to children in from 2008 to 2010 AND the increase in care cases over the same period.
Of course it could be simply that more parents are becoming more violent, as opposed to less already poor parents being prevented from harming children by preemptive removal, but the real point is that it’s probably more complicated than any single issue.