Child death rates not symptom of ‘Broken Britain’

Baby P, Brandon Muir, seven children in Doncaster… I could go on. All children who have had tragic, violent deaths in the past few years. It would be easy to think that these are all symptoms of ‘Broken Britain’. But is this the case?

Apparently not.

Far from the cases above being symptoms of a wider malaise in society as a whole, it seems they are more the exceptions; violent child deaths have fallen by 40% in the past 35 years, according to a Bournemouth University study, the BBC reports.

Researchers found that number of killings and other unexplained violent deaths of children in England and Wales aged 14 and under fell from 136 to 84 per year between 1974 and 2006. This is the fourth lowest figure in the Western world, according to the researchers.

This rather flies in the face of various doom-mongers who use these cases – among others, such as the Edlington case – to show how society is going to hell in a handcart.

Children’s social workers will also welcome this news; they have been roundly battered in the media over their – apparently collective – failure to safeguard children in the past couple of years.

While every child death is a tragedy – and everything should be done to stop them, and any examples of poor social work practice should be stamped out – it is important to put these in context. These are not regular occurrences – part of the reason why they make so many newspaper headlines when they do – and it should be remembered that child safeguarding is improving and the vast majority of cases do not end in tragedy.

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