Whether a nurse, doctor, dentist or allied health professional, manager or administrative or clerical worker, the contribution of all health service workers to the protection of children is crucial. The welfare of children and in some cases a child's life depends not only on professional vigilance and a willingness to consider the possibility of child abuse and neglect but also on action taken in response to it. It depends on asking the child, listening to what they say; sometimes believing things people think do not, could not or should not happen to children.
The inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié from abuse and neglect found the professional network failed to act on concerns about her safety and welfare. It said that there were many occasions when intervention could have saved her life. All these opportunities were lost, not because nobody suspected she was being abused but because nobody followed the most straightforward procedures in response to suspicions that she was being deliberately harmed.
Ensuring the safety and promoting the welfare of children who are at risk of harm is not an easy undertaking. It is sometimes difficult to assess the significance of the information about a child, to gauge its seriousness or decide what to do next. It is easy to lose a sense of perspective and the focus on the child in an attempt also to take into account the needs of the parent/carer, family and professional network. In acknowledging this The Child in Mind is a guide to how to keep the focus on the child: how to keep the child in mind. Its practical approach aims to inform professional judgements about how best to protect the child within the context of their family and wider environment.
It is not necessary to be an expert in paediatrics or child abuse to have concerns about a child but following child-protection guidelines once abuse is suspected is a requirement for everyone, managers and clinicians alike. The Child in Mind recognises that child protection is a responsibility which crosses all services and all hierarchies. It places equal value on each person's contribution to the process of protecting