Your guide to all forms of child abuse, covering the full range of medical and social interactions: from investigation to identification and referral.
The Child Protection Companion (CPC) outlines the basic context and pathway of child protection cases, starting with medical assessment, with a separate chapter on each form of abuse, and ending with court and training.
Access to the CPC
Pediatricians can encounter child protection issues in any setting. The purpose of the Child Protection Companion (CPC) program is to:
- Ensure pediatricians are aware and understand their role in the multi-agency child protection process
- Support pediatricians in their evidence-based practice and empower them to identify, assess, investigate and manage cases of suspected child abuse
Focus on the role of paediatricians in recognizing abuse and build on and complement guidance from other organisations, such as the 2017 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) clinical guideline CG89, Child abuse: when to suspect abuse in children under 18. age1.
We hope that this publication will contribute to the following broader objectives:
- Raise awareness that protecting children is everyone's job
- Promoting and protecting the welfare of children
- Promote multidisciplinary and multiagency work
- Ensure that pediatricians follow legal and non-legal guidelines and regulations
- Let pediatricians know when and how to seek advice from others
- Whenever possible, communicate evidence-based practices
- Support the experts in this difficult field of work
- Contribute to the improvement of documentation, information exchange and communication
- Improving the outcomes and well-being of children and young people.
This document is primarily intended for pediatricians working in the United Kingdom; however, other health and non-health professionals working in the multi-agency child protection process may also find it useful.
The document is based on the best evidence available at the time of writing and subsequent publication. When statements are made, they are referenced wherever possible. However, it should be noted that high-quality, credible, evidence-based research is lacking in many areas. New evidence can overturn findings at any time, so it is the reader's responsibility to keep abreast of new literature. The reader is expected to have appropriate professional knowledge and experience to interpret the content in the context of the specific child's situation.
This document is intended as a guideline and should not be used as a prescriptive document. Pediatricians should always act in the best interests of the child or young person, using their knowledge, skills and clinical judgement.
All healthcare professionals and pediatricians using CPC should take noteGood practice recommendationsEUImplications for practicechapters, which means that they were prepared based on current regulations, guidelines, research and scientific evidence available to the authors at the time of publication. They must be used and considered in context, and when practitioners use the references in this document, they must read the references in their entirety in order to use them correctly.
In December 2017, the CPC moved to an online format, where it has become a living/dynamic document that facilitates ongoing chapter-by-chapter editing and updating in light of the evolving scientific evidence base and strategy, policy, legislation and guidance.
At the beginning of each chapter there is a note showing the update status and the date of the last update. Chapters are still available in PDF format for download and printing.
Chapter updates are overseen by a dedicated RCPCH Child Protection Publication and Systematic Review Subcommittee and are led by nominated clinical experts in the field. Updates are peer reviewed and quality assured by peer reviewers, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) Child Protection Standing Committee and the Child Protection Systematic Reviews and Publications Sub-Committee. Co-chairs of the Subcommittee on Systematic Reviews and Publications of the Child Protection Subcommittee complete the chapter review before the subcommittee signs off on the update for publication on the Child Protection Portal.
The CPC includes a combination of policy-based and evidence-based chapters. Chapters 9 (Recognition of physical abuse) and 11 (Neglect) have been updated with evidence from RCPCH systematic reviews of child protection evidence, while Chapter 10 (Child sexual abuse) has been updated with evidence from Physical signs of child sexual abuse from RCPCH 2015 RCPCH .a peer-reviewed publication based on evidence (also known as the "Purple Book"). Other chapters have been updated in line with applicable child protection legislation, national clinical guidelines and child protection policies in devolved countries.
We gratefully acknowledge your significant contribution as an author or reviewer; or, in many cases, a combination of both, which is what the following people did when updating the latest 2017 Child Protection Companion.
You can browse the authors, reviewers and reviewers for the 2013 editionHere.
RCPCH Board Members
Permanent Committee for the Protection of Children
- dr. Alison Steele - Child Protection Officer RCPCH (2018 to February 2023)
- dr. Elaine Burfitt
- Doctor Simon Clark
- Dra.Marianne Cochrane
- Doutor Peter Green
- Doctor Paul de Keyser
- Doutora Alison Livingstone
- Doktor Kate McKay
- Teacher Jacqueline Mok (2018)
- Doutora Claire Meager
- Load. Lorna Price
- Doktorica Fiona Palha
- dr. Linda Teebay
- Dr. Emilia Wawrzkowicz
- dr. Vicki Walker
Child Protection Research and Publications Subcommittee
- dr. Alison Steele - Child Protection Officer RCPCH (since 2018)
- Dr. Emilia Wawrzkowicz – assistant for child protection (publications) (from 2019) / co-head of publications (until 2019)
- Profesorica Alison Kemp
- dr. Francesca Norris
- dr. Ingrid Prosser
- Doctor Paras Sharma
- dr. Hilary Smith (retired)
- Doktorica Fiona Palha
Contributors, reviewers and consultants (updated in 2017)
- Doktor Folashade Alu
- Doutor Richard Brown
- dr. Elaine Burfitt
- Dr Nicola Cleghorn
- Doutor Steve Cronin
- dr. Sarah Dixon
- dr. James Fraser
- Doctor Due Fraser
- dr. Jenny Harris
- dr. Debora Hodes
- Ellie Johnson
- Professor Jacqueline Mok
- dr. Alison Mott
- Doktor Aideen Naughton
- Dr Christina Park
- Load. Lorna Price
- Dr Carolyn Sampeys
- Doutor Ian Sugarman
- dr. Alison Steele
- Suma Surendranath
- dr. Linda Teebay
RCPCH support team
- Charlotte Jackson
- Olivia Lam
- Sara Haveron
- Alison Firth
- Melissa Ashe
- Lisa Cummins
- Kerry'ego Garfitta
The Child Protection Companion (CPC) publication is the exclusive property of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and reproduction in whole or in large part of the material contained herein for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited.
The RCPCH recognizes that the terminology used in the CPC is primarily based on English law, legislation and guidance. Differences in policy and practice in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and legal differences in Scotland have been taken into account where appropriate.
CPC is intended for health workers and pediatricians for child protection issues. It is based on the best evidence available at the time of writing and subsequent publication. New evidence can overturn findings at any time, so it is the reader's responsibility to keep abreast of new literature. The reader is expected to have appropriate professional knowledge and experience to interpret the content in the context of the specific child's situation.
It should be noted that anyone using this publication should use their own clinical judgment in assessing each child, as each case is different and should be carefully considered on an individual basis. All information and evidence presented in the CPC should be used together with other relevant and up-to-date literature and supplemented with expert advice where necessary.
The CPC authors have attempted to use appropriate, up-to-date, interactive links to other guidelines and publications where possible, which will be reviewed regularly if possible.
All healthcare professionals and pediatricians using CPC should take noteGood practice recommendationsEUImplications for practicesection, indicating that they were prepared based on current regulations, guidelines, research and scientific evidence available to the authors at the time of publication. They must be used and considered in context, and when practitioners use the references in this document, they must read the references in their entirety in order to use them correctly.
All paediatricians should recognize the limits of their own knowledge and experience and seek further guidance from colleagues, such as nominated and designated experts (eg safety) for complex cases.
If you would like permission to reuse copyrighted material from RCPCH, please visit the dedicated page"Rights and Permissions to Reuse RCPCH Copyrighted Materials"For more information.