Third Report of Child Fatality Review Panel released (with photo)
The Child Fatality Review Panel today (August 31) published its third report on the prevention of child death. The report contains 45 recommendations for the prevention of avoidable child fatality following an analysis of the child death cases in 2012 and 2013 reported to the Coroner's Court.
Speaking at a briefing today, the Chairman of the Review Panel, Mr Herman Hui, said that every child should have the right to live and grow with love, joy and fulfilment. The death of a child will cause much pain and grief in his or her family, he said, adding that he hoped the work of the Review Panel could help prevent similar tragic losses.
The review covered the deaths of 206 children aged below 18 who died of natural (131) and non-natural (75) causes. The report revealed that most of the children who had died of non-natural causes lost their lives because of accidents (28), followed by suicide (20), assault (eight) and medical complication (one). In light of a rising trend in child deaths caused by babies co-sleeping with adults, inappropriate sleep arrangements and concealment of pregnancy, the Review Panel has completed a thematic review on these topics and reiterates that co-sleeping with babies can have fatal consequences, calls on caregivers to raise awareness of sleep safety for children and reminds the public of the risk of death arising from pregnancy concealment.
Among the 28 fatal child accident cases, nine children died in traffic accidents and the others died of choking (six), drowning (six), falling from height (five), fire (one) and "struck by object" (one). Four recommendations were made on the prevention of death resulting from traffic accidents, which comprise reminding caregivers not to use mobile phones when crossing the road, especially when accompanying children; considering legislation on using suitable restraining devices for children in vehicles; further promoting safe cycling; and calling on motorists to adopt a careful and considerate driving attitude. Furthermore, recommendations relating to home safety were made, such as never leaving young children alone or unattended at home, keeping up vigilance in sleep arrangements for infants and ensuring proper use and installation of electrical home appliances.
Among the 20 child or youth suicide cases, 14 persons jumped from height to their death, with the youngest one aged 11. The main reasons for children or youths committing suicide were found to be related to schoolwork problems, worrying about their future and relationship problems with family members or boyfriends or girlfriends. Since the majority of children who committed suicide had identifiable suicidal signs before they made actual attempts, early detection of these signs together with timely professional intervention might have helped prevent their deaths. A total of 15 recommendations were made in the report for the prevention of child and youth suicide.
A total of eight children lost their lives as a result of assault, and seven of the perpetrators were their parents. A total of 11 recommendations were made to prevent such tragedies, including reminding parents not to use children as bargaining chips when handling parental relationship problems, reiterating the need for new and prospective parents' awareness of postpartum depression and encouraging them to seek help, conducting public education to enhance family members' understanding of mental illness to enable them to support mental patients to face their illness positively, and providing training to enhance professionals' sensitivity in handling cases with high-risk factors.
The Review Panel also made three recommendations in light of a fatal case due to medical complication. Apart from reiterating that cough suppressants containing codeine should not be used for children under 12 years old, the panel also noted that it is not a good practice to prescribe multiple medications containing essentially the same active compounds.
Mr Hui expressed his heartfelt thanks to all of the front-line workers, professionals and managerial personnel of service organisations, professional bodies and government departments who assisted and participated in the review.
The Acting Assistant Director (Family and Child Welfare) of the Social Welfare Department (SWD), Ms Annisa Ma, expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the Review Panel and acknowledged the value of the child fatality review to facilitate the improvement and enhancement of the current child protection and child welfare service systems. She said that the SWD has accepted the recommendations of the Review Panel and will continue to enhance multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration in protecting children.
She added that to encourage the public, including children, to maintain positive thinking and attitudes when faced with difficulties and to approach their families and friends or professionals for help, the SWD has produced a set of television and radio announcements in the public interest entitled "Consider Different Perspectives, Take a Positive View", as well as posters echoing the theme, early this year. Apart from publicity work and family life education to encourage the public to take a positive attitude in the face of adversity, specific programmes targeted at equipping parents to help their children build up resilience for life challenges have also been held in Integrated Family Service Centres of different districts.
To prevent child fatality due to assault, the SWD, the Labour and Welfare Bureau, the Education Bureau, the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority jointly launched the Comprehensive Child Development Service, which aims at early identification of high-risk pregnant women (including substance and drug abusers), mothers with postnatal depression and families with psychosocial needs so that they can be referred for appropriate welfare services in a timely manner.
Ms Ma stressed that the SWD will continue to work closely with relevant partners and stakeholders in providing a comprehensive network of welfare services to preserve and strengthen the family as a unit for developing a caring family relationship to enable members to prevent and cope with personal and family problems.
The full content of the Review Panel's third report is available on the SWD homepage (www.swd.gov.hk) for public viewing.
Ends/Thursday, August 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:42
Issued at HKT 17:42