Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Zealand: Increased Child Abuse Drives SBS Prevention Program

The New Zealand Sunday Herald reports on research by doctors Patrick Kelly, Judith MacCormick and health board social worker Rebecca Strange that looks at increasing rates of child abuse in NZ and the failure of child protection services to cope with that increase. Link to PubMed abstract (not surprisingly, it has a somewhat different emphasis).

One encouraging sign: the adoption of a shaken baby prevention program.

Dr Patrick Kelly, a paediatrician at Starship children's hospital, said there were great hopes the programme would save lives. In it parents will be spoken to "in the first few days after [the birth] to talk about the dangers of shaking a baby". They would then have to sign a sheet of paper acknowledging the discussion and the ways to avoid abuse. If successful, the pilot scheme may be rolled out across the country. In the United States it has resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in abuse. Health professionals at Starship hope to have it running by the end of this year. The Shaken Baby Prevention Programme is being funded by the Ministry of Social Development, and is based on a programme developed by US professor Mark Dias. Kelly said the programme was suited to New Zealand's independent midwife network. The trial was awaiting the appointment of key staff and development of material such as a video.

No comments: