Creating a child abuse policy that reflects an ethic of care

Document Type


Publication details

Fielden, J 2000, 'Creating a child abuse policy that reflects an ethic of care', Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 26-37.

Peer Reviewed



The primary purpose of child abuse policy is to guide the action of health care providers and so ensure that the fundamental rights of those the policy intended to protect are not compromised. This discussion paper explores the ethical considerations underlying child abuse policy from bioethical and from caring ethical perspectives, both of which are outlined briefly. A process that could be used to create or analyse existing child abuse policy, in relation to underlying ethical considerations, definitions of child abuse, level of health care, resourcing needs and relationship to employment policy is outlined. A hypothetical example of such a policy is used to illustrate elements of this process. Assuming that policy is designed to direct action, it is argued that if child abuse policies were rewritten to reflect an ethic of care the quality and scope of health care provided to children and their families would improve. Consequently, stated government objectives of improving child health services, as well as primary health care aims of achieving equitable, accessible and affordable health care for children in New Zealand would be better facilitated.

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