Working to end child maltreatment

February 16, 2022

How can child maltreatment be prevented?

That was the subject of a 60-minute virtual talk, on February 22, 2022, by Nicole Catherine, scientific director for the BC Healthy Connections Project and Christine Schwartz, adjunct professor with the Children’s Health Policy Centre.

They were speaking with just over 200 practitioners attending a virtual conference titled “A multidisciplinary approach to child maltreatment — a path to healing,” sponsored by the Vancouver-based Sophie’s Place Child & Youth Advocacy Centre.

Speaking on the prevalence, risks and outcomes of child maltreatment, Schwartz told the group that one in three Canadians has experienced some form of maltreatment in childhood and that the COVID pandemic has only increased the risk. “Families being isolated in their homes, especially during periods in which schools have been closed, have come at a great cost to children,” she said.

Schwartz also discussed a systematic review of maltreatment prevention programs, citing strong evidence that child maltreatment can be prevented. She also noted that, home-visiting programs, like Nurse-Family Partnership, “provide needed supports to address family socioeconomic disadvantage, promote parenting skills and help children flourish.”

Nicole Catherine then summarized the early results of a recent BC-based scientific evaluation of the Nurse-Family Partnership. Findings of the BC Healthy Connections Project have shown that Health Authorities successfully reached the population that the program is designed to benefit and that it helped reduce prenatal substance use. Findings on child maltreatment and developmental outcomes, as well as maternal life course are anticipated later in 2022.

“To prevent child maltreatment, we must invest in programs that start early, in pregnancy and ensure that we reach underserved children and families who can benefit the most,” Catherine said.