Violent child deaths in Britain fall by 40% since mid-70s

THE number of children dying a violent death in England and Wales has fallen by close to 40% since the mid-1970s and is the fourth lowest in the Western world, according to new academic research to be published shortly.

Between 1974 and 2006, the annual number of children killed aged 14 and under fell from 136 to 84, a Bournemouth University study has found.

The in-depth report provides an insight into long-term trends at a time of intense debate about violent crime and in the face of widespread concerns over cases such as Baby Peter, who died after months of abuse in Haringey, north London, in August 2007.

As a proportion of the child population, the death rate nearly halved from 32 to 17 per million children, the fourth lowest in the western world.

The report, obtained by the BBC ahead of its publication in the British Journal of Social Work later this year, concluded violent deaths had never been lower.

Criminologist Professor Colin Pritchard who led the study told BBC Radio: “Thirty years ago, England and Wales were the third or fourth highest child killers in the western world, but we’re now fourth lowest.”

He called the figures a “relative success story.”

Most of the nine other developed countries whose data was analysed showed similar reductions.

Spain and Italy had the lowest violent death rates among children, the United States the highest. Germany was second-highest.

Pritchard said improved monitoring by social workers and better communication between health visitors, doctors and police had led to the fall.

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