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Counterblast: Putting Serious Case Reviews in Their Place-What We Really Need To Understand About Child Homicide

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 53 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2014 Pages: 309-313
Elizabeth Yardley
Date Published
July 2014
5 pages
This paper analyzes the benefits and limitations of England's practice of conducting Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) of child homicides caused by the abuse and/or neglect of the child's parents.
The SCR examines the role of all relevant services in an individual case and determines how the death occurred, whether something could and should have been done to prevent the child's death, and what changes could be made to minimize the risk of such homicides. On average, SCRs produced 47 recommendations. These recommendations often relate to actions that were relatively easy to implement and were process directed. Critics have noted that most SCR recommendations do not focus on the wider social issues underlying fatal child abuse and neglect. Consequently, they are not likely to draw attention to the broader risk factors, such as poverty, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and mental health. This paper argues that by focusing on the SCR and the perceived failing of professionals and the procedures they have followed has generally ignored overarching social problems and the responsibility of the community to safeguard children. SCRs can be useful for examining disparities between the expected and actual services provided in cases where abuse and neglect by parents cause a child's death; however, they generally fail to examine and prioritize the role of collective responsibility for the welfare and well-being of children. All residents of a community must be informed about the signs of child abuse and neglect, and when and how to report child maltreatment to appropriate protection agencies. 16 references