When a child’s death is not accidental

This week John Devaney gave a CAPRA seminar about best practices in child death reviews. In particular, he talked about deaths (suspected to be) caused by abuse or neglect. According to UNICEF figures, every year 3500 children under the age of fifteen die in industrialized nations as a result of abuse. Surprisingly, more children die from chronic neglect than from physical abuse. And the younger a child, the more he or she is at risk of non-accidental death, with infants having a three times higher risk than those aged 1-4 years, who run twice as much risk as children aged 5-14 years. Another important take home message: when an adult is known to be violent towards one member of the family (e.g., the partner), chances are high that the violence extends to other family members (the children) as well. This means that children are often not ‘only’ witnesses to, but also victims of, domestic violence. Continue reading