Public Health Models for Preventing Child Maltreatment: Applications from the Field of Injury Prevention

Debbie Scott, Bob Lonne, Daryl Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary approaches to child protection are dominated by individualized forensically focused interventions that provide limited scope for more holistic preventative responses to children at risk and the provision of support to struggling families and communities. However, in many jurisdictions, it is frequently shown, often through public inquiries and program reviews, that investigatory and removal approaches are failing in critically important ways, particularly regarding reducing the inequities that underpin neglect and abuse. Consequently, there have been increasing calls for a public health model for the protection of children, although there is often a lack of clarity as to what exactly this should entail. Yet, there are opportunities to learn from public health approaches successfully used in the field of injury prevention. Specifically, we advocate for the use of Haddon’s Matrix, which provides a detailed theoretical and practical framework for the application of a comprehensive and integrated public health model to guide intervention program design and responses to child protection risk factors. A broad overview of the application of Haddon’s Matrix’s principles and methods is provided with examples of program and intervention design. It is argued that this framework provides the range of interventions necessary to address the complex social and structural factors contributing to inequity and the maltreatment of children. It also provides the foundation for a holistic and integrated system of prevention and intervention to contribute to system-level change and address child maltreatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-419
Number of pages12
JournalTrauma, Violence & Abuse
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • prevention of child abuse
  • child abuse
  • treatment/intervention

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