Safeguarding is a statutory responsibility for all health professionals.a,b,c

Child abuse and neglect is a common problem across society.

Local authorities in Wales received 35,300 referrals in the year to the 31st of March 2014 and there were just over 3,100 children on local authority Child Protection Registers at that date.d  In 2013 Wales overtook Northern Ireland as having the highest rate of children on child protection registers in the UK.e

There were 5745 children in Wales who were ‘looked after’ at 31 March 2013. Over 70% of these were placed into care due to abuse or neglect. During that year 1,190 children started to be looked after due to abuse or neglect.e


A Welsh Government survey in Wales showed that there were 19,920 ‘children in need’ at the 31st of March 2013. Almost half of these children had a need for services due primarily to the risk of, or actual abuse or neglect. Parental substance misuse, domestic abuse and parental mental ill health were each recorded for about a quarter of children.f

Police statistics also demonstrate the scope of child abuse and neglect.

In 2012-13 police forces in England and Wales recorded; 67 homicides of children and young people age 0-15 years; 22,654 sexual offences against children under 18; 6,296 rapes of children and young people; and 6,369 recorded offences of cruelty and neglect of children under 16.e

Safeguarding is not just about child protection it has a wider remit to protect children and young people from harm. Suicide is a major cause of death in people aged 12-17 accounting for 23% of all deaths from external causes in Wales in the last decade.g

However all of these statistics only account for those cases that come to the attention of the police and local authorities. There are many other cases that do not come to light. The NSPCC conducted a study in 2009 that interviewed young people. For young people aged 11-17 this revealed that nearly one in five had experienced high levels of abuse or neglect and nearly one in 20 had experienced contact sexual abuse.h


This module was developed by Dr Nigel Farr, National safeguarding GP, Safeguarding children service, Public Health Wales


This module is currently under review

This module was created Feburary 2015