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Inaccurate reporting of child physical abuse by healthcare staff

A research published in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing has indicated that 60% of healthcare professionals have examined//children whom they believe could have been physically abused , but as little as 48% actually conveyed it to the authorities.Less than three-quarters of doctors, dentists and community nurses were aware of the procedures of reporting child physical abuse, but 79 per felt inadequate with the information they had.

Over a fifth (21 per cent) said they were worried about getting it wrong. Confronting families, inexperience and fear of litigation were also common barriers to reporting.

"The ability to recognise physical abuse and willingness to report it varied between the groups" says lead researcher Dr Anne Lazenbatt, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland.

"Our survey of 419 healthcare professionals showed that community nurses were most likely to recognise and report physical abuse.

"It also revealed that fears, anxieties and lack of knowledge stop primary healthcare professionals from reporting abuse and that they need more education, training and support in this area."

74 per cent were aware of the mechanisms for reporting – with community nurses showing the highest levels of awareness, followed by doctors and dentists. 99 per cent said recognising and reporting child physical abuse should be part of undergraduate and postgraduate training and 79 per cent wanted further in-service training.

Research published by the United Nations in 2002 suggests that 3,500 children under the age of 15 die from child physical abuse every year in the industrialised world.

And seven per cent of children in the UK have been reported as suffering from physical abuse from a parent or carer, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Lazenbatt's research, carried out with Professor Ruth Fr
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