In this essay I am going to discuss the importance of safeguarding children in an Emergency Department (ED). I will discuss what safeguarding is and the need for it within an ED. I will also discuss the government's policies on safeguarding and how they affect our actions. I will also discuss risk assessment and its influence upon government policy and direction.
Before the introduction of risk assessment methods in child protection in the 1980's the assessment and prediction of children at risk from abuse was a capricious business: care workers had no theory, or methodology and no strategy by which to determine which children were more at risk than others "they worked almost in the dark" (Corby 1990). When risk assessment strategies were introduced their enormous advantage was to give some orientation and means of prediction to social workers in their efforts to determine which children were at the highest risk. Moreover, in pre-risk assessment days, decisions about child protection were taken individually by scattered organizations and institutions without any inter-communication. The desperate consequence of this lack of cohesion was often complete confusion about which authority should make the decision about whether to and how to protect a child from abuse (Corby 1990). .
Risk assessment required much closer participation between various agencies and therefore more efficient and individualistic protection care for children. It takes into consideration a number of risk factors that affect a child's parental and familial environment, and analyzes these collectively to produce a total risk overview. Risk assessment has evolved considerably since its introduction in the 1980's and various methods and theories of risk assessment have been experimented with; this essay looks at several of these methods, analyzing the relative worth of each. It also examines the introduction of schemes such as child protection conferences and child protection plans and evaluates the improvements to child protection brought by these schemes.