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Processes in Child Abuse Protection

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 2445 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Child protection is everybody’s business – This is the title of an Australian Government initiative recognised in the development of a National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020, Council of Australian Governments, 2009 (Australian Institute of Family Services [AIFS]. 2019).  Every child has the right to feel safe, experience happiness and to be healthy.  Child abuse in Australia is a pressing issue and educators, amongst other significant people in children’s lives have a duty of care to protect children to the best of their ability.  This report will highlight what child abuse is and who and how can provide protection, the impact that child abuse has on children and educators, and its implications of teaching abused children in the early years childhood setting.


Child abuse or neglect is defined by Price-Robertson (2012) as “any non accidental behaviour by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that is outside the norms of conduct and entails a substantial risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or a young person” (as cited in Kearns, K. 2014).

There are five common subtypes of child abuse and neglect, physical, emotional, neglect, sexual and exposure to family violence (AIFS. 2019).  The World Health Organisation ([WHO], 2006) states that abuse is the result in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power (as cited in AIFS, 2019).

Examples of abuse include, but are not limited to excessive discipline, beating, humiliation, aggressive verbals, threats, abandonment, inappropriate sexual contact, penetration or exploitation and initial failure to provide care for a child (AIFS, 2019). 

Child abuse occurs when a child is subjected to intentional behaviour that causes harm to their health or wellbeing.  Any child from any family, from any socio economic background, at any time may experience abuse or neglect.  Lamont (2011) states “most perpetrators of sexual abuse are people known to the child – such as parents, relatives, family friends or other adults who have regular contact with the child” (as cited in Kearns, K. 2014). 

Educators in the early years have the most consistent contact with children. Although all adults have a responsibility to protect children, an educator’s role as a protector is extremely important. It is vital that they can identify signs of suffering abuse and or neglect and how to deal with it correctly.

In Australia substantiated child abuse and neglect had increased from 6.1 per 1000 children to 7.4 per 1000 as found in The Child Protections Australia 2011-12 Annual report.  Unfortunately, the numbers keep rising, and in 2015-16 the number of substantiated cases rose to 60,989 from 48,420 in 2011-12. The rise may also be because more cases are being reported or due to the increased migration into Australia.  The cases are grouped as, emotional 45%, neglect 25%, physical abuse 18% and sexual abuse 12% with 51% of the overall victims being girls. (AIFS, 2017)


Stake Holder



  • Protect children from harm
  • Take claims of abuse seriously
  • Seek help from outside agencies if issue arises that cannot be dealt with
  • Work closely with supporting agencies (take them to their appointments)


  • Observe children’s behaviour and report signs of abuse and/or neglect
  • Follow correct protocol
  • Keep up to date on child protections issues through personal development sessions
  • Establish a caring and trusting relationship with every child
  • Be familiar with the child protection policy, the service and the protocols for notification.
  • Support the child – do not investigate or confront suspect or perpetrator.

Health professionals

Guidance officer / counsellor / psychologist

  • Distribute information about universal promotion and prevention programs
  • Provide school personnel about how abuse impacts learning and behaviour
  • Liaise with referral agencies for continued support
  • Report all cases of abuse through the appropriate channels.

Police / Law Agencies

  • Investigate report of abuse or neglect
  • Inform relevant agencies (Department of children’s Services)
  • Prosecute perpetrators of abuse and neglect.

Child Protection Services and Government Child Services.

  • Referral of child/family to appropriate services, i.e., medical or psychological
  • Referral to Police / law agency for criminal activity to be investigated.
  • Best interests of the child’s safety and


  • Remove immediate threat to the child.
  • Removal of child from home as a last resort.
  • Work with government and non-government services.

* Information relating to stakeholders, referenced from Kearns, K. (2014).


Child abuse and neglect can affect all domains of development - physical, psychological, emotional, behavioural, and social - all of which are interrelated.  Children who have suffered abuse of neglect will suffer in one or many ways.  Kearns, K. (2014) professes that the consequences “will vary according to the age of the child, the type and severity of the abuse, and the relationship of the perpetrator of the child”.  An example being, a child who is being sexually abused may stop looking after themselves properly, refusing to wash, not brushing their hair or their teeth in an attempt to deter the perpetrator.  They may also be at risk from an eating disorder due to a loss of appetite caused by anxiety or even start self-harming in an attempt of a cry for help.

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Trauma caused by experiences of child abuse and neglect appears to have serious effects on the developing brain (McCrory, De Brito, & Viding, 2010; Streeck-Fischer & van der Kolk, 2000).  Brains develop over time and through interaction with the environment and exposure to complex and chronic trauma can result in persistent psychological problems (NSCDC, 2012. as cited in AIFS 2019). Trauma, which has occurred through abuse can lead to depression, the child may portray behaviours such as being withdrawn and sad when in the past they have been happy and sociable.  They may display disruptive or aggressive behaviour and appear angry most of the time.  Children who have been abused may find it difficult to trust people, making it difficult to form friendship groups and experience extremely low self esteem. This may make it difficult in classroom activities or physical education where working in partners or small groups or teams is necessary.

Abuse and neglect in the early years of life can seriously affect the developmental capacities of infants, especially in the critical areas of speech and language (Wolfe, 1999).  Prospective research studies have consistently shown that children who have been abused display lower academic achievement than other groups of children (Gilbert et al., 2009, as cited in AIFS 2019).

The most severe consequences of child abuse, is death. In NSW in 2015, there were 504 child deaths recorded; 101 of these children had a history with child protection.  Within the 101 deaths, 8 were attributed to suicide, 15 died from neglect, 5 died as a result of abuse, 4 from suspected abuse and 3 died in circumstances suspicious of neglect (AIFS, 2019). 


The Early Years Learning Framework ([EYLF], 2009) is a key component of the National Quality Framework for early childhood education and care.  The framework offers a vision where 'all children experience learning that is engaging and builds success for life' (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR]. 2009).  It is made up of 5 learning outcomes.  Learning outcome one and three emphasises the importance of children having a strong sense of identity and wellbeing.  It emphasises that they should feel safe, secure and supported and that they should take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical well-being.  Positive experiences will help the child to grow and blossom, these experiences can be gained from within their families and communities and will assist in their physical, social, emotional and mental development. The other Learning outcomes are also affected by abuse and neglect as these outcomes nurture confidence, communication and their connectedness and contributions to the world.   When the child is subjected to negative experiences such as child abuse, an adverse effect will occur on the learning outcomes. 

Educators must be competent in identifying indicators of concern, record the incidents or observations and respond appropriately in a professional and confidential manner.  Where the educator suspects there are reasonable grounds that a child is at risk of harm, they must report their concerns to their supervisors or education board.  However, these indicators may also be consequences to other casual factors in a child’s life, they may feel angry and aggressive due to a new sibling in the family and they are not getting enough attention, maybe they are sad and withdrawn as a parent has gone to work overseas for a period of time (Kearn, K. 2014).

Educators must be aware of their roles and responsibilities to respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect, (NQS element 2.3.4).  They have a legal and professional duty to report suspected child abuse and neglect.  Educators require training to develop the specialised knowledge to deal with reporting of the cases and support and guidance to deal with complicated and emotional situations.


Child protection is every body’s business.  Child abuse effects children from all walks of life and the range of consequences they suffer are vast.  When all stakeholders are dedicated to their roles, and they follow the correct protocol, child abuse and or neglect can be identified and reported, allowing the child to receive help and guidance and to lessen the suffering.  Everyday educators provide support, guidance, encourage and provide care to children belonging to others so they can grow and reach their full potential.  Dealing with suspected child abuse in accordance with the protocol and as soon as practically possible will ensure that the health, safety and well being of children is of the greatest importance.


o      Australian Institute of Family Services [AIFS](2017). Effects of child abuse and neglect for children and adolescents. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/effects-child-abuse-and-neglect-children-and-adolescents

  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013). National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009‒2020.   Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/bc891123-9d00-40a5-81a4-772ae663a071/15967.pdf.aspx?inline=true
  • Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR]. (2009). Belonging being and becoming; the early years learning framework for Australia. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/node/2632
  • Kearns, K. (2014). The big picture (3rd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Cengage Learning.
  • McCrory, E., De Brito, S.A., & Viding, E. (2010). Research review: The neurobiology and genetics of maltreatment and adversity. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(10), 1079-1095.
  • McKenzie, K., Scott, D., Fraser, J., & Dunne, M. (2012). Assessing the concordance of health and child protection data for "maltreated" and "unintentionally injured" children. Injury Prevention, 18(1), 50-7.
  • World Health Organization. (2010). Child maltreatment (Fact Sheet No. 150). Retrieved from www.who.int/mediacentre/​factsheets/fs150/en/index.html


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