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Child Protection

Ethical

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All dental team members, as providers of care for children and/or parents, are in a position to observe signs of child abuse or neglect and, as stated by the General Dental Council (GDC) [1], have an ethical responsibility to find out about and follow local procedures for child protection [2]; the GDC recommends dental professionals keep up to date by doing Continuing Professional Development (verifiable or general) in safeguarding children and young people, and vulnerable adults. Dental teams also have an ethical obligation to ensure that children are not at risk from members of their own profession and to take action to prevent this. In Scotland, a multi-agency Child Protection Committee (CPC) for each local authority is the key planning forum for the development and monitoring of child protection services, including the development of local procedures to facilitate the protection of children [3-5].

Dental team members are not responsible for making a diagnosis of child abuse or neglect but are responsible for sharing concerns appropriately and following local child protection procedures. Note that there is no data protection obstruction to reporting suspected child/vulnerable person abuse.

In 2005, the Department of Health published the educational website and handbook entitled ‘Child Protection and the Dental Team: An Introduction to Safeguarding Children’ [6], and the then Chief Dental Officer in Scotland recommended that all dental team members in Scotland read this guidance [7]. Note that there are slight differences in the legislation and mechanisms used in Scotland. These are detailed in ‘Child Protection and the Dental Team: An addendum for Scotland’ [8], which is also available on the Child Protection and the Dental Team website [9].

Sources of Information

  1. Guidance on Child Protection and Vulnerable Adults. General Dental Council (2013) https://www.gdc-uk.org/docs/default-source/guidance-documents/guidance-on-child-protection-and-vulnerable-adults.pdf?sfvrsn=eebbd01b_2
  2. It’s Everyone’s Job to Make Sure I’m Alright.  Report of the Child Protection Audit and Review. Scottish Executive (2002) (Archived) www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/47007/0023992. (PDF)
  3. National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland. Scottish Government (2021) Supporting documents – National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2021 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
  4. National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland – Guidance for Health Professionals. Scottish Government (2021)
  5. Child Protection Committees www.celcis.org/our-work/protecting-children/child-protection-committees-scotland
  6. Child Protection and the Dental Team: An Introduction to Safeguarding Children in Dental Practice. Department of Health (2009) https://bda.org/childprotection
  7. Chief Dental Officer. Child Protection and the Dental Team. Scottish Executive (2006)   www.scottishdental.org/library/child-protection-and-the-dental-team
  8. Child Protection and the Dental Team: An addendum for Scotland. (2006) https://www.scottishdental.org/library/child-protection-and-the-dental-team-scottish-addendum/
  9. Child Protection and the Dental Team https://bda.org/childprotection