Cumulative jeopardy: how professional responses to evidence of abuse and neglect further jeopardise children's life chances by being out of kilter with timeframes for early childhood development

2015-07-09T09:03:58Z (GMT) by Rebecca Brown Harriet Ward
Evidence concerning the impact of abuse and neglect in the early years points to the importance of taking swift and decisive action when very young children are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. The decisions made by professionals who have safeguarding responsibilities are extremely difficult and will have long-term consequences for children's life chances. This paper explores three complementary questions. Firstly, how far is there a mismatch between timeframes for early childhood development and those for responses to evidence of abuse and neglect from professionals with safeguarding responsibilities? Secondly, if a mismatch exists, why has it occurred? And thirdly, how might the issues identified be addressed? Illustrations are drawn from a prospective longitudinal study of the decision-making processes influencing the life pathways and developmental progress of an English sample of very young children who were identified as suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm before their first birthdays and have now been followed until they are five years old.