Child protection website gets makeover

The programme is supported by COPDEND (The Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors). In the seven years since the educational resource was published, child maltreatment has rarely been out of the headlines. The cruel abuse of Baby P, the deaths of Mick Philpott’s children in a deliberately-started house fire and recent shocking news of child sexual exploitation and trafficking show that our society still has much to do to safeguard children from abuse and neglect.

‘When this was first published we knew that dental teams had a bit of catching up to do, but it is admirable how our profession has risen to the challenge,’ said Jenny Harris, consultant in Community Paediatric Dentistry in Sheffield, who has led the Department of Health-funded project since its inception.

An evaluation of the resource, published in the British Dental Journal, (Br Dent J 2011: 210: 75–79), showed a remarkably high proportion of dentists acknowledged its direct impact on improving their knowledge, confidence and readiness with respect to safeguarding children. Since then many dental practices have made further improvements when preparing for CQC registration.

The new website has been designed with improved navigation and a fresh ‘look and feel’. In line with recent developments in safeguarding services throughout the country, updates include greater emphasis on early intervention rather than waiting for a crisis to develop.

The impact of wider family issues on children, such as parental mental and general health issues and domestic violence, also receive more attention. Guidance on dental neglect has been revised, reflecting the profession’s increased confidence in recognising and managing this problem. Dental teams are prompted to find out about their own local arrangements for referring low level concerns, including use of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and Multi-agency Support Teams (MAST) for children and families.

Those involved in teaching child protection to dental professionals are directed to an expanded and updated reference section which includes links to other key guidance publications including the recently revised statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, published in March 2013.

When first published in 2006, Child protection and the dental team brought the concept of ‘safeguarding’ children to a wider dental audience: not just referring children when abuse was suspected but taking initiative to minimise the risks of harm to children and to promote their wellbeing.

The working group behind the document even received a letter from Lord Laming, who chaired the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, congratulating them on having ‘taken forward this agenda in such a positive and constructive way.’

A list highlighting the 2013 updates, downloadable in PDF format, is provided for users who still prefer to use the handbook version of this educational resource, a copy of which was circulated to all NHS dental practices in England and Scotland in 2006 (and in Wales and Northern Ireland under differing arrangements).

The 2009 reprint of the booklet is still available for purchase from with an optional verifiable CPD question set.

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