Significant harm: making professional judgements

AYRE Patrick
Journal article citation:
Child Abuse Review, 7(5), September 1998, pp.330-342.

Judging whether a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm has become a critical task for professionals working with children and their families in England and Wales. Yet little guidance is available about what the phrase means in its entirety and how it should be applied in practice. This study set out to examine how the phrase was used in practice by a selected sample of experienced health and social work staff. The data indicate a heavy concentration of attention on the weaknesses of families being assessed rather than their strengths and on parents rather than children. Problems are identified in responding effectively to long-term, chronic abuse such as emotional abuse and neglect. The study recommends changes in practice based on the findings which have been implemented by a wide range of practice agencies within the study area.

Subject terms:
multidisciplinary services, social work, social workers, staff, vulnerable children, assessment, attitudes, child abuse, child neglect, child protection, child sexual abuse, decision making, health care, health visitors;
Content type:
Journal home page
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