Objective: This paper presents comprehensive and up-to-date data covering 4 years of Serious Case Reviews into fatal child maltreatment in England.
Methods: Information on all notified cases of fatal maltreatment between April 2005 and March 2009 was examined to obtain case characteristics related to a systemic classification of 5 broad groups of maltreatment deaths (severe physical assaults; covert homicide/infanticide; overt homicide; extreme neglect/deprivational abuse; deaths related to but not directly caused by maltreatment).
Results: A total of 276 cases were recorded giving an incidence of 0.63 cases per 100,000 children (0-17) per year. 246 cases could be classified based on the data available. Of these the commonest specific group was those children who died as a result of severe physical assaults. Apparently deliberate overt and covert homicide was less common, while deaths as a direct consequence of neglect were rare. In contrast, some evidence of neglect was found in at least 40% of all cases, though not the direct cause of death.
Conclusions: Class characteristics differ between the different categories of death and may suggest the need for different strategies for prevention.
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