National Child Protection Commission urgently needed, says Lancet

01 JUN 2009

The lead Editorial in this week's Lancet medical journal makes an urgent call for a National Child Protection Commission to be set up in the UK.

The call follows three contradictory decisions that have 'made a mockery of child protection in the UK and Ireland by further adding to the confusion around how best to protect vulnerable children'.

Last week the High Court rejected an appeal from paediatrician Dr David Southall, who was struck off by the General Medical Council after allegedly accusing a mother of killing her son.

Since the UK Secretary of State for Children, Schools, and Families, Ed Balls, said that all professionals involved in child protection should act to put the child first and not be deceived by parents, the Editorial describes it as 'incomprehensible' that Dr Southall should remain struck-off the medical register for doing just that.

The Editorial discusses the different opinions among paediatricians and child protection professionals, and which approach to use for different types of abuse. It says: "Clearly there is no overall consensus among professionals on how to best serve the very people they try to protect."

It concludes: "Paediatricians need to speak up loudly and take the lead in a concerted effort to change the current, clearly inadequate system in the most appropriate way. The government should put the Children's Commissioner in charge to urgently set up a National Child Protection Commission that reviews all the evidence emerging from national and international data and devise evidence-based recommendations on how best to protect vulnerable children.

"Society has the collective responsibility to do justice to the memories of 30,000 Irish victims, Baby Peter, Victoria Climbié, Ainlee Labonte, and all the other countless and nameless victims of damaging and life-threatening child abuse."

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