40% fall in violent deaths among children

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The Independent Online

The number of violent deaths among children in England and Wales has fallen by almost 40 per cent in the past 30 years, according to a report seen by the BBC.

Between 1974 and 2006, the annual number of children killed aged 14 and under fell from 136 to 84, the study said.

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, according to the report's compilers at Bournemouth University.

Improved monitoring by social workers and better communication between health visitors, doctors and police are said to have led to the fall.

Professor Colin Pritchard, from the university's school of health and social care, told the BBC: "Thirty years ago England and Wales were the third or fourth highest child killers in the Western world, but we're now fourth lowest.

"There's been a gradual decline in these terrible events."

The study examined nine other major developed countries, with most showing similar reductions.

Spain had the lowest violent death rate, at four deaths per million children, with Italy on five.

The United States' figure was highest at 47 deaths per million, with Germany second highest at 21.