Child abuse deaths down

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Child abuse deaths have dropped by two-thirds in England and Wales over the past 20 years - the biggest decline in the western world, research at the University of Southampton has shown. The study does not suggest that child abuse itself has declined, Colin Pritchard, Professor of Social Work Studies, said yesterday, but that child protection services are intervening earlier and successfully reducing its most extreme consequence.

The improvement, which has shifted England and Wales from having the third worst level of child homicides in 1973 to the fifth best among 22 developed nations in 1993 has come despite two major recessions, which traditionally increase pressure on marginalised families. Nicholas Timmins