Parton, Nigel (2010) Moving Beyond Individualised Child Protections Systems. In: Child Aware Approaches Conference Sharing, Building and Recognising Child Aware Innovation, 31st March-1st April 2014, Melbourne, Australia.

All studies of the prevalence of child maltreatment demonstrate that only about a tenth of the amount of child maltreatment ever becomes known to statutory child protection agencies and that there are a number of policy dimensions which need to be considered if we are serious about addressing the problem; issues related to gender, social class and inequality are central. I argue that current and long-standing problems indicate it is now time to move beyond individualised child protection systems. In being so concerned with the operation and failures of the child protection system, we have failed to address what we mean by child maltreatment and what we should do about it. I argue that child maltreatment is a significant social problem which cannot be ameliorated by individualised systems of intervention alone.

I propose that a broad public health approach to child maltreatment can provide an important beginning framework for future policy and practice but that this needs to place a children's rights perspective at its centre and that we need to recognise that there are a wide range of significant social harms which cause maltreatment to children, many of which are clearly related to structural inequalities. This will be demonstrated through a project entitled 'Mothers of sexually abused children in charge' which is led by mothers whose children have been sexually abused which has been highly successful. I recommend the importance of engagement with a variety of community-based groups in the process and that the processes of change are as important as the overall aims which we want to bring about.

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