Reviewing child deaths - Learning from the American experience

L. Bunting, C. Reid

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Current systems for investigating child deaths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have come under intense scrutiny in recent years and questions have been raised about the accuracy of child death investigations and resulting statistics. Research has highlighted the ways in which multidisciplinary input can contribute to investigative and review processes, a perspective which is further supported by recent UK policy developments. The experience of creating multidisciplinary child death review teams (CDRTs) in America highlights the potential benefits the introduction of a similar system might have. These benefits include improved multi-agency working and communication, more effective identification of suspicious cases, a decrease in inadequate death certification and a broader and more in-depth understanding of the causes of child deaths through the systematic collection and analysis of data. While a lack of funding, regional coordination and evaluation limit the impact of American CDRTs, the positive aspects of this process make it worthwhile, and timely, to consider how such a model might fit within our own context. Current policy developments such as the Home Office review of coroner services, the Children Bill and related Department for Education and Skills (DfES) work on developing screening groups demonstrate that strides have been made in respect of introducing a multidisciplinary process. Similarly, the development of local protocols for the investigation and/or review of child deaths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland highlights an increased focus on multidisciplinary processes. However, key issues from the American experience, such as the remit of CDRTs/screening panels, the need for national coordination and the importance of rigorous evaluation, can inform the development of a similar process in the UK.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)82-96
    Number of pages15
    JournalChild Abuse Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2005

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