Project Description

Brief Description of the approved European Project
[Just/2011-2012/DAP/AG/3283] entitled:

“Protecting infants and toddlers from domestic violence: Development of a diagnostic protocol for infant and toddler abuse and neglect and its implementation to the public health system”

The protection of infants and toddlers from domestic violence is a primary European public health issue. Domestic violence towards babies and toddlers is rarely prevented or diagnosed before their hospitalization in hospitals or other health services, since this particular population has limited contact with other social groups beyond their family. Moreover, violence towards infants and toddlers is also rarely recognized after hospitalization to health services.

This program aims to increase the effectiveness of prevention and early diagnosis of abuse and neglect of infants and toddlers of European health services. For this purpose, a diagnostic protocol will be established for the diagnosis of abuse and neglect of infants and toddlers, which takes into account the particularities of this age group, and will utilize modern research data related to this issue. Moreover, this diagnostic protocol will be created in such a way as to be applicable in the other European countries participating in the Programme: England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus. Furthermore, the proposal of the coordinating scientific team/in charge of this Project is to include the protocol on daily health examinations of infants and toddlers in these countries, with the possible diffusion to other European countries which will express an interest. The proposal is based on the fact that the majority of families who live in European countries follow nationally prescribed programs of preventive medicine during the first year of a child's life, and then become easily accessible to health professionals in order to evaluate them for problems related to abuse and neglect of infants and toddlers.

Creating the common - for the countries participating in the Project - diagnostic protocol will be based on pre-existing diagnostic protocols used in EU countries, in contemporary research and clinical data related to this issue, while the diagnostic criteria of the Diagnostic Classification : 0-3R: Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood: Revised Edition. Washington, DC: Zero To Three Press; 2005. Zero to Three. (revised ed.), for disorders Carer-Child Relationship, and especially the diagnostic category abusive disorder, will also be used, after assessing the validity in the participating countries. The diagnostic protocol which will occur after the entire preparatory process will be applied to families in the general population of all participating countries.

Then, each participating country will train professionals from public health services who  serve infants and toddlers and their families, on how to apply the protocol as part of their daily clinical practice. At the same time, and if the diagnostic protocol is proven to be effective and easy to apply in the context of public health services, efforts will be made to include the diagnostic protocol in the national predetermined schedule preventative monitoring of infants and toddlers.

Aiming at the sustainability of the program, the partners will create a National Network of Public Health Institutions for Children. Each institution will appoint an agent who will participate in an annual meeting on issues related to the protection of infants and toddlers from domestic abuse and neglect. Also, as part of the activities to promote sustainability of project results, partners will create a recording and monitoring form for cases of abuse and neglect on infants and toddlers, which will be provided in the Network’s public health Services, so that all relevant cases will be filed and monitored by the National Network of Public Health Institutions for Children in each participating country.

As part of the dissemination of the Project’s results an International Conference will be organized during which a related website will work which will give information on the activities’ progress in all participating countries. It will also allow open access to information relating to the protection of infants and toddlers from domestic violence.

This program is expected to contribute significantly to the prevention of abuse and neglect of infants and toddlers in the European countries involved in this action.