Structured risk assessment procedures: Instruments of abuse?

Chris R. Goddard, Bernadette J. Saunders, Janet R. Stanley, Joe Tucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Child protection services in Australia and elsewhere face increasing internal and external demands. As a response to these pressures, in part at least, services are increasingly implementing some form of risk assessment procedures. This article examines the practice implications of the increasing use of risk assessment instruments in child protection services. It highlights the complexity of the concept of risk as the basis for a future-oriented assessment activity. The authors suggest that this change of time frame (from what has happened to what might happen) may be detrimental to children. Through a critical review of the literature, the authors question whether risk prediction is possible and discuss the limitations of risk assessment instruments which omit some risk factors and may ignore the perspective of the child. The authors challenge the validity of risk assessment instruments in statutory settings and suggest that the protection of the organization may be a major objective in their implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-263
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Child protection
  • Management
  • Prediction
  • Risk assessment

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