Nurses’ perceptions of systems and hierarchies shaping their responses to child abuse and neglect

Lauren Lines, Julian Grant, Hutton Alison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Nurses have an important role in preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect. This paper reports on nurses' perceptions of how organisational systems and hierarchies shaped their capacity to respond to child abuse and neglect. This is one of four key themes identified through an inductive analysis of data from a broader qualitative study that explored nurses' perceptions and experiences of keeping children safe. The study was guided by social constructionist theory, and data were collected through in-depth interviews with nurses working with children in Australia (n = 21). Key findings showed that nurses experienced many challenges to responding to child abuse, including difficulties sharing information, fear of making mistakes and inflexible systems of care. This was underpinned by an organisational ‘rule-centred’ culture of following policies at the expense of maintaining an explicit focus on children's needs. These findings demonstrate first the importance of creative and flexible thinking from individual professionals, so policies are enacted with a clear child focus. Second, they highlight the need for leadership to enact organisational and systemic cultural change that maintains a genuinely child-centred approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12342
Number of pages9
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • child
  • child abuse
  • child safety
  • healthcare delivery integrated
  • information sharing
  • mandatory reporting
  • nurses
  • qualitative studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Nurses’ perceptions of systems and hierarchies shaping their responses to child abuse and neglect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this