A Qualitative Study on Intervening Work Experiences of Hospital-Based Child Protection Team on Child Abuse Death Cases

병원 학대피해아동보호팀의 아동학대 사망사건 개입경험 연구

  • Received : 2013.09.03
  • Accepted : 2013.10.16
  • Published : 2013.11.30


The aim of this study was to explore the work experiences of hospital-based child protection team staffs who had intervened the child abuse cases resulting in death. In order to gather the relevant data, all 62 child protection teams registered nationwide were contacted and 5 teams which had actually experienced at least one child abuse deaths were found. The staffs (hospital social workers and doctors) who belonged to these teams were intensively interviewed, and the interviewed materials were thoroughly analyzed by qualitative research methodology. The result showed that treatment delay was the most important obstacle to prevent unnecessary deaths of the victims. Some abused victims were sent to the hospital only after their physical condition had so gravely deteriorated. In other cases, custodians' bland denial or refusal to treatment made impossible the timely intervention to save the child lives. Nevertheless, child protection team staffs' reasonable suspicion and active intervention could sometimes uncover the hidden truth that child abuse was the actual cause of death. These incidents were regarded as a team's meaningful accomplishments by team members. Meanwhile, lack of awareness and excessive burden about the role and responsibility of mandated reporter precluded medical staffs' active involvement. Also, substantiating the abuse suspicion by securing positive evidences was found to be a facilitatory factor for the rapid public intervention. On the basis of these results, several practice and policy implications were discussed to improve the early detection process, securing evidence and uncovering the actual cause of death in child abuse deaths.


child abuse;child abuse death;hospital-based child protection team;hospital social worker;qualitative study