Developing public health solutions for tackling child neglect in Scotland

by Kate Kyriakou

Doctoral researcher Kate Kyriakou tells us about her work developing a public health model for the prevention of neglect.

My PhD focuses on the development of a model that aims to prevent child neglect. Neglect is one of the most common forms of child maltreatment and a frequent reason for children being taken into care.  Research on neglect tells us that the best way to protect all children requires that we take action before actual neglect begins.  Identifying what factors put a child at risk of neglect is therefore key to prevention.

Children playing out

The UNCRC asserts that every child has a right to be protected from neglect and to have their basic needs met. If Scotland is to meet its commitments under the UNCRC it must take seriously the prevention of neglect. Our present identification systems are not good at detecting neglect, or the factors that place children and young people at risk of neglect.

During my PhD I have spoken to three different groups, expert in different ways, to find out what they think an effective preventative model would look like. I’ve spoken to parents who are in contact with support agencies and organisations, children and young people who are care experienced, and professionals who work in child protection and / or public health.

Based on what they have told me, and on my knowledge of the literature on neglect, I have begun to construct a model that aims to prevent neglect.  My participants have suggested that a multi-layered approach would be needed, involving multiple interventions to better support children and families, and so prevent neglect. This would include building and maintaining good relationships with children, young people and families, providing long-term support, and addressing parent and child trauma through effective interventions and services. It was also suggested that services needed to be more accessible and more widely known. Participants also told me that families needed stability – and services that support families also needed to be stable, with secure, long term funding that would enable them to maintain support over time.

I’ve finished collecting all my data, and am now analysing this, to develop the preventative model to address the multiple dimensions of child neglect. I anticipate that my full report on the outcomes of this research will be ready in the late autumn this year, and recommendations for policy will be created based on the results.

Kate Kyriakou is a Phd student at the Centre for Chid Wellbeing and Protection at the University of Stirling.

Kate sharing her work in Australia earlier this year.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.