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Reclaiming child protection

Reclaiming child protection

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Reclaiming child protection

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  1. Reclaiming child protection Liz Davies www.lizdavies.net l.davies@londonmet.ac.uk

  2. Child Protector Protector Abuser Abuser Child Protector Abuser Abuser Abuser Child Protector

  3. CHILDISM Oppression of children Child abuse: abuse of power UNCHILDREN Children unseen: defined out of the protective systems

  4. Child protection – child abuse is political • Children are silenced • Adult survivors are silenced • Professionals who are the voices of children and survivors are silenced

  5. Survivor’s accounts Cooper T (2007) Trust No One. London. Orion Frampton P (2003) Golly in the Cupboard. Manchester. Tamic --------------------------------------------------------------- Keeble H (2010) Baby X. London Pocket Books

  6. Main message Since the mid-90s government policy has led to a demise of child protection systems and children are now less well protected. This agenda was deliberate and well orchestrated with extensive support from academics The government planned ahead for a public response to an increase in child deaths from abuse The global industry of child abuse has been protected but not the child victims

  7. Children and young people who were the subject of a Child Protection Plan (CPP) by category of abuse, years ending 31 March 2009 Focus on child in need not child in need of protection

  8. What are the agendas/themes? • E-government: Profit to IT companies to boost economy • Surveillance of every child and family • Criminalisation / control of children rather than children as victims • Privatisation: a narrowing of statutory child protection • Deprofessionalisation: ‘anyone’ can do child protection work (Tim Loughton MP – volunteers) • Children as commodities • Centralised control of services

  9. Analysis of academic texts The texts were analysed with respect to five terms; • joint investigation • police child abuse investigation team/unit • Section 47 (Children Act 1989) • strategy meeting • child protection register/child protection plan

  10. Laming progress report Entitled ‘The Protection of Children in England’ But no key child protection terms in it Focus on workforce and technology issues Said ‘ Just do it’ but didn’t say how

  11. Munro review Critical: The problem is that previous reforms have not led to expected improvements in frontline practice – substantial body of evidence indicating that past reforms are creating unforeseen complications Rules and regulation drive practice not professional judgement Framework of Assessment : concern about over-preoccupation with meeting timescales for assessment relevant to concern about the quality of that assessment and its impact on the safety of children and young people / lack of focus on risk assessment /

  12. BUT Fails to address child protection systems Nothing about joint investigation, child protection register, strategy meetings role of police etc. A return to the refocusing ideology of the mid nineties that too many children are caught in net of child protection . ‘High standards are achieved ; despite not because of the formal structures. Fear of missing a case is leading to too many referrals and too many families getting caught up in lengthy assessments that cause them distress but do not lead to the provision of any help. This is creating a skewed system that is paying so much attention to identifying cases of abuse and neglect that it is draining time and resources away from families’.

  13. Peter Connolly SCRs • First SCR ( which was discredited by government) included Section 47 protocols, attendance at strategy meetings and conference protocols • Second SCR much less.. Words such as ‘authoritative’ . Watered down version.

  14. Silent words I crouched in the corner Curled up as small as can be. One part hoping that you Wouldn’t notice me The other half hoping that you’d Hear the words I’d spoken Without uttering a word Nelson S (2008) See Us Hear Us. Dundee, Scotland. Violence is Preventable p21

  15. Children will know if you can hear or not hear Nelson S (2008) See Us Hear Us. Dundee, Scotland. Violence is Preventable p21

  16. Children want social workers to; • Stick with them over time • Each case individual response because of complexities, apply procedures using judgement • Understand about abuse They ask for; • Neutral informal settings away from home • Settings that do not require appointments

  17. Someone noticing ‘She didn’t judge me, she understood the kinds of ways I would feel without me telling her... and gave me space even when my behaviour must have seemed weird and didn’t make sense – even to me’ (Nelson, 2008)

  18. Mary Bell: victim of organised abuse and convicted in 1968 of murder of two children But it was horrible, and then I was on the bed, and then.. they turned on me……I was so frightened because before it, or later she says if I ever told anything I would be taken away and locked up. You know I told you about the sentry box on the bridge? That’s where she said I would go. And she said nobody would believe me. And anyway, I think I must have thought it was my fault. I had done wrong and was being punished. I… I…’ She cried and cried. ‘I felt so .. so dirty’ (Sereny G (1999) Cries Unheard:335)

  19. The London Borough of Islington child abuse scandal 1980s -1990s Extensive abuse of children within the care system. Ritual abuse of children. Murders, abductions, buying and selling of children. Professionals involved From 1992 - over 150 newsprint articles on the abuse of children within the Islington care system: Each of 13 inquiries followed disclosure in the media Survivors were involved throughout alongside whistleblowing social workers

  20. Islington Inquiry report 1995: denial and cover-up : children and Professionals unheard • Report said that a social worker identified 61 young people – victims of abuse but said there was no evidence of a network • Report said there was no evidence of ritual abuse

  21. Demetrious Panton: in ‘care’ of Islington council from age 10 years. Minister for Children, Margaret Hodge, described him as ‘disturbed’.

  22. NEVRES KEMAL : Because we're good people, and we do a very good job, and someone has to do it Social worker prevented from investigating case of sexual abuse of 7 young children She gained a voice in the media but has no work If they had listened to my concerns and taken measures to rectify them Baby Peter might never have died. I’ve had four years of hell and disbelief, words cannot express what I have been through but it’s all irrelevant – a boy has died.

  23. North Wales: Lost in Care inquiry Over 2000 children abused in the care system • Abuse would have been prevented if workers had voiced concerns But • Staff who did voice concerns were disbelieved and blamed for speaking out Waterhouse Sir R and the Tribunal of Inquiry into the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974 (2000) Lost in Care. London. The Stationery Office

  24. JERSEY 14 x 8 km - Population only 91,000

  25. Haut de la Garenne - Jersey children’s home until 1986. 1000 children lived there between the 50s and 80s. Police investigation found remains of 5 children, over 100 children’s bones and 4 punishment rooms.

  26. Care Leaver /survivor in grounds of former care home

  27. Gorey Bay and Gorey castle close to Haut de la Garenne home

  28. The bath found in the cellar after survivor’s descriptions

  29. The bunker

  30. The Jersey opera house

  31. Voices of the children: read the blogs Simon Bellwood former Social Worker Stuart Syvret - Senator What we are dealing with is a continuum of abuse A culture of contempt A culture of disregard A culture of abuse A culture of concealment And it didn’t end with Haut de la Garenne. It continues to this day

  32. Police Investigator: LENNY HARPER I can quite clearly say that the investigation is being held up. There are people on the island who just don't want us going down the route of this inquiry"

  33. A global crime requiring a global protective response • sexual exploitation • trafficking • international adoption trade • organised, institutional and ritual abuse networks • online abuse • trade in abusive images of children • forced marriage • sex tourism • bonded labour/ child sex slavery • organ harvesting Abusers – less severe penalties than for other crime – easier to remain undetected. More police effort into stolen antiques than stolen children Fewer than 1 in 50 reported sexual crimes against children lead to conviction of a criminal 25% all reported rape is of children under 16 years An estimated 95% sexual crime against children is unreported

  34. Section 47 Children Act 1989 Local Authority duty to investigate when there is reasonable cause to suspect actual or likely significant harm

  35. Working Together in practice • Confident professional specialists • Mutual trust and respect (now removed from policy) • Informed debate within procedures and policies • Shared goals : a commitment to the ‘best interests of children’ • Agency support / supervision / training • When things go wrong non-compliance is the problem NOT the policies and procedures

  36. Child abuse inquiry 1945 ‘a story unfolds, in the report of small carelessness's, pressures of other work, difficulties of staffing and failures to cooperate ……….. which collectively resulted in individual tragedy and public scandal.’

  37. IF ONLY….. • The child had been heard • The adults concerned about the child had been heard • Signs had been recognised • Someone had called social services / police • That fax had been followed up • The workers had proper supervision / safe working conditions • A suspicion had been checked out • Someone had blown the whistle • Budgets hadn’t been cut / services not restructured

  38. Hearing the voice of the child To do the work of protecting children as workers we need to be in safe working environments. Many professionals do succeed but it is against the odds. They are creative, dedicated and committed despite the obstacles to good practice

  39. Working Together in practice • Effective joint investigations in UK • Young people and professionals speaking out • Resource intensive • Compensation and negligence claims • High profile people and organisations exposed • Ritual abuse

  40. The backlash • The mythology that too many children are entering the child protection ‘net’ • Vigorous government directives to shift away from proactive multi-agency joint investigation of child abuse • Proactive practitioners accused of being ‘over-zealous’

  41. We know how to protect children: the knowledge base exists The language of child protection has been taken from us • Protect – Safeguard • Abuse/significant harm – concern • Investigation – assessment • Risk – need The systems of child protection have been taken from us. • S47 investigation marginalised – focus on need instead • Abolition of Child Protection Register • Reduced role of police

  42. Safeguarding - Working Together definition: 2010 Prevention agenda Protecting children from maltreatment Preventing impairment of children’s health or development Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood successfully Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm

  43. OUTCOMES are not RIGHTS ‘Every Child Matters’ Policy 2003: 5 outcomes (particularly related to education) expected of children defined as future citizens not children in their own right. Non achievement of the outcomes is met with a punitive state response The child’s right to protection becomes marginal within policy

  44. Prevention/Protection: Either/or? • Family support defined as an alternative to child protection • Prevention presented as an alternative to protection (need smoke alarms AND fire-fighters) Distinction to segregate service provision between two extremes allowed • restructuring of service • centralisation of government control of child protection work • increased privatisation

  45. Victoria Climbie – child in need NOT defined as child in need of protection

  46. Debunking the mythsVictoria - 128 injuries Where was the analysis of the injuries? Not in the Inquiry: no forensic approach

  47. Family support model / child in need but not in need of protection: Climbié and Peter Connolly – assessment not child abuse investigation • It was my managers and not I who instructed that this was not a child protection case which required a section 47 enquiry but instead a family support case which is more routine general support of a family. I thought I was doing it – no-one told me otherwise. Its what I was taught on my course (Lisa Arthurworrey 2005) ……………………………………………………………………………. Peter Connolly case: social worker’s response during the criminal trial • Q: what was your role in the case • A: I was there to support the family …………………………………………………………………………… Haringey response included document, ‘Support offered to family of Child A’ (Peter C) . …parenting classes, provision of appliances, housing support, placement with friend, Signs of Safety approach

  48. Victoria Climbie/Peter Connolly: Section 47 threshold met but defined as family support Unexplained scald/injuries/buckle type marks, thumb prints inconsistent explanations Delayed admission to hospital Unavailable to authorities Indicators of neglect Emotional abuse indicators/ master servant relationship History of hospital admissions Confused family background Unexplained inflicted injuries/scratches/infections Delay seeking medical attention Avoidance of professionals Indicators of neglect Emotional abuse indicators – high pain threshold/ head banging History of hospital admissions Lack of knowledge of adults in household