Nurses are well positioned to contribute to child protection efforts but are underutilised. This paper describes a critical discursive analysis of nursing responses to child neglect and abuse (CN&A) in British Columbia, Canada. Legal and practice guidelines were analysed alongside nurse interview texts, offering a glimpse into how nurses prevent CN&A in their everyday practice with families. Results show how the primacy of mandatory reporting to child protection authorities coordinates a series of deferrals and how nurses engage with and interrupt these deferrals in everyday practice. Nurses’ relational approaches are essential to gain access to the private sphere of the family to assess, plan, elicit cooperation with interventions and monitor the situation. They considered reporting to be one among many possible responses. This study highlights how nursing contributions to prevention are largely overlooked and points to the potential for a more significant role for nurses in a public health approach to child protection.
Areas of Research: child abuse, child health services, discourse analysis, ethics, mandatory reporting, nursing practice, public policy
Scientist CHEO, Research Institute