A Longitudinal Study of Children Reported to the Child Protection Department in Western Australia

Bilson, Andy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1243-2663, Cant, Rosemary, Harries, Maria and Thorpe, David H. (2015) A Longitudinal Study of Children Reported to the Child Protection Department in Western Australia. The British Journal of Social Work, 45 (3). pp. 771-791. ISSN 0045-3102

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct164


This study of management information provides data on all reports, investigations and findings of maltreatment of children in Western Australia from their birth in 1990 or 1991 until their eighteenth birthday. It provides prevalence rates of children being reported, investigated and found to have been maltreated. A study of more recent cohorts shows trends in recent years. A key finding is that over 13 per cent of all children born in 1990 and 1991 were reported before reaching the age of eighteen, although 71 per cent of them were not found to have been maltreated. International data suggest this rate of one in eight children being reported may be equalled or exceeded in countries with an Anglo-American forensic child protection system. There was also a disturbing increase in reports of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in recent cohorts with an estimate that almost half of those born in 2004 had been reported before their fifth birthday. These findings add further evidence to the need for social work to address and severely limit investigative approaches. In this way, social workers will provide support rather than continuing practices involving high rates of surveillance and a focus on parental blame.

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