Child protection publications

This page contains key RCPCH child protection publications, as well as important external publications and an archive of relevant RCPCH publications.

Child Protection Companion logo

Child Protection Companion (CPC) - 2nd Edition

Online and print edition of the handbook for paediatricians that provides information on all forms of abuse. It also covers the child protection processes across the whole range of medical and social interactions: from examination, to identification, to referral, to court.

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Service specification for the clinical evaluation of children and young who may have been sexually abused (September 2015)

The RCPCH has published a revised ‘Service specification for the clinical evaluation of children and young who may have been sexually abused’. This document outlines the standards for the provision of a paediatric forensic medical service for children and young people who may have been sexually abused. It has been prepared by a working group of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) Child Protection Standing Committee in partnership with the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine to inform the establishment of these services in the UK.

Service specification for the clinical evaluation of children and young who may have been sexually abused 2015
(PDF, 520KB, 27 pages)

Physical signs of child sexual abuse (May 2015)

Focuses on evidence for the physical signs of child sexual abuse (CSA) in the following areas: female genitalia, male genitalia, anal signs, oral signs and sexually transmitted infections.

The publication is available free of charge to all designated and named doctors. Please contact

Also available for purchase

Looked after children: knowledge, skills and competence of health care staff (March 2015)

This document, developed in partnerships with the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of GP, provides a framework for healthcare staff to understand their role and responsibilities for meeting the needs of looked after children. It sets out the required knowledge, skills, attitudes and values required with the ultimate aim of improving life experiences for some of the most vulnerable children in society.

Looked after children: knowledge, skills and competence of health care staff March 2015 (PDF, 555KB, 58 pages)

Child protection and the anaesthetist (July 2014)

To assist anaesthetists and theatre personnel if concerns are raised during the course of a routine anaesthetic or perioperative care that suggest a child may have been deliberately harmed, or that a child or other children in the family may be the victim of harm or neglect in the future.

The second part of the document (Appendix 1) deals with the process that surrounds a planned anaesthetic for a formal (‘forensic’) examination, when signs of possible child sexual abuse are to be investigated.

Child Protection and the Anaesthetist (PDF, 1002KB, 15 Pages)

Guidelines for occupational health professionals (May 2014)

Developed with the particular setting of occupational health in mind by a joint working group of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) and the RCPCH, and ratified by the FOM Board and the RCPCH Standing Committee on Child Protection.

Safeguarding Children: Guidelines for Occupational Health Professionals (PDF, 8 Pages, 17KB) 

Roles and competences for health care staff (March 2014)

Provides a competency framework for all groups (ranging from non-clinical staff to experts), information on education and training and role descriptions for named and designated professionals. This document will help all health staff understand their responsibilities in recognising child maltreatment and how to take effective action.

Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competences for Health Care Staff (PDF, 102 Pages, 508 KB)

Statuory guidance - working together to safeguard children (2013)

Revised statutory guidance on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013

Safeguarding vulnerable people in the reformed NHS: accountability and assurance framework

Published by the NHS Commissioning Board, to builds on Working Together. Provides more detailed advice on how NHS organisations can fulfil their responsibilities and should be read by all health professionals in conjunction with the statutory guidance.

Safeguarding Vulnerable People in the Reformed NHS: Accountability and Assurance Framework

RCPCH summary of this guidance (PDF, 5 pages, 66KB) - highlights the key changes and the implications for paediatricians

Guidelines on the urgency of CSA examinations

Flowcharts published by RCPCH and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine to support forensic physicians and paediatricians deciding when to examine a pre- or post-pubertal child in cases of suspected sexual offences. This guidance should help paediatricians when considering if to examine out of hours or whether to wait until the following day.

Pre-pubertal complaints (PDF, 214 KB)

Post-pubertal complaints (PDF, 214 KB)

Guidelines on possible CSA examinations

Updated statement (PDF) published by RCPCH and FFLM about paediatric forensic examinations in relation to possible child sexual abuse. 

Guidance on peer review

Oulines purpose, aims, process and pitfalls of peer review, and includes a series of good practice recommendations as well as a template terms of reference.

Guidance on Peer Review (PDF, 69KB, 3 pages) 

You can also read a short article (PDF, 13KB, 1 page) by Dr Natalia Cartledge explaining the benefits of peer review from a trainee’s perspective.

Safeguarding 2012: views from the frontline

Makes recommendations intended for all practitioners, agencies and policymakers that will inform national developments and the direction of child protection policy and training at the College. 

Safeguarding 2012 (PDF, 112KB, 22 pages) 

Child protection clinical networks

It is critically important that clinicians have appropriate skills and competencies and that they work in supportive environments with clear governance frameworks.

Managed clinical networks can provide robust arrangements across organisations, as well as the collective capacity and expertise to ensure equitable access to specialist advice, high quality training, development and support; and to facilitate strategy development, governance and quality improvement.

Child Protection Clinical Networks: Protecting Children, Supporting Clinicians, 2010 (PDF)

Child Protection Reader

Provides wider reading on many aspects of child protection, such as the differing perspectives on the historical, ethnic and cultural and legal issues.

Child Protection Reader, 2007 (PDF, 1.35MB, 148 pages). 

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External publications

Recommendation for the Collection of Forensic Specimens from Complaints and Suspects, Faculty of Forensic Legal Medicine, February 2014