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Abuse can be defined as maltreating, making bad use of, oral and corporeal attacks, insulting , the mistreatment of, or the possessions of unjust or dishonest exercises on an object, individual or being both (Thomas, Holland, 2010). Actions filling the above descriptions and specifically directed towards the child could be termed as “Child Abuse”. These particular types of abusive action, the child personality together with the prevailing environment contribute to how the abuse may affect the child, both at the time of abuse as well as later (Reder et al., 1993). However, this is not a simple concept and involves the duty of child’s guardians to enable their child protected from the conditions of harm (Reder, Duncan 1999). Generally, the child’s guardians may be one or both of the biological parents, but this may not be always. Regardless of who the potential guardian is, the critical duty to safeguard the child from the significant effects of harm remains the same (Quinton, 2004; Powell 2007). Recent statistics by the government of United Kingdom on Child Abuse show that, the illegitimate deaths of children owing to child abuse and specifically, killed by their parents increased to about seventy percent and this percentage was found to be higher with the statistics taken in 2001 (around fifty percent) (Department of Health, 2000). This essay provides a critical analysis of issues associated to child abuse and considers the role of family support in protecting and safeguarding the needy children.
Among various different forms of abuse, physical, emotional and sexual types are considered by the government of United Kingdom. In the public sense, negligence (or neglecting others) was often believed to be as a form of abuse, though the regulations stipulate to consider neglect or negligence a linked but a different issue (Adams et al., 2002). Furthermore, it can be considered as the rising crisis. Most lately, this was highlighted by the civic and media objection with regard to the death of Victoria Climbie, slaughtered by her own aunt and uncle, the snitch ciphers of child abuse mistreated by copious professionals (Adcock, White 1998). On the other hand, the full horror story of Baby P was unfolded before the court by the year of 2008. The jury investigated about the case and it was observed that the baby’s father and mother were involved in the act of child abuse. The shocking signs pertaining to torn ears, absence of toe nails, finger nails and finger tips together with the lesions on the scalp summed up to the tragic and appalling incident in United Kingdom (Adams et al., 2002). The Cleveland Child Abuse Scandal can be taken as another example for the issues related to child abuse. This scandal occurred in Cleveland, England in the year of 1987 during which around 121cases of doubted child abuse were recognised and diagnosed by Dr Marietta Higgs and Dr Geoffrey Wyatt (Child practitioners in Cleveland County). After the court trials, twenty cases that included children from 12 families were identified by judges as incorrectly diagnosed, 100 cases among 121 children alleged to be sexual abuse victims, in rest of the cases, the child was subjected to a protection order and some of them were separated from their parents permanently (Adcock, White 1998). In the year of 2007 (March 21st), Dr Marietta Higgs said in an interview that she would perform the same act again by relying on facts and she suspected that number of individuals who were being abused were even higher than that of named 121 cases. Following these incidents, awareness was developed among the health officials in safeguarding the children in a way by applying proper procedures for the complete management of child protection and subsequent prevention of abuse (Department of Health 2003; Department of Health 2000).
Based on the above illustrations, it can be understood that safeguarding children is the prime responsibility of any social worker regardless of his biological reaction with the child. The vocabulary of child protection has undergone major changes over the last fifty years (Falkov, 1996). The exact meaning and ideology of these changes and their significance in policy and practice linked to welfare and child safety was little ambiguous. The effects of these changes in indicating a cosmetic, superficial updating terminology over time within the complex framework was not found to be intact (Department of Education and Skills 2003; Department of Education 1995). Questionably, these vocabulary changes till the year of 1990’s were suggestive of refinements in identifying, controlling and interfering in the cases of child abuse and neglect ever since its rediscovery in the 1960’s; the agenda related to safeguarding was found to herald more significant modifications. It can be explained as signifying a more methodical and comprehensive approaches to child welfare issues can reduce the incidence of Child Abuse and these approaches were further extended in Every Child Matters (ECM) initiative (Department for Education and Skills, 2004). Following the death of Victoria Climbe, an inquiry report was introduced and it involved strenuous efforts to certify no child slips by the use of preventative services, efforts to enhance information partaking and functioning together with skilled experts that incorporated the foreword of Common Assessment Framework, transformed methods to overcome social segregation and with an objective of providing children a tone of voice in public and government life (Broadhurst et al., 2009). Therefore, Safeguarding children is the key element of current communication in children’s services, still there exists certain ambiguity and overlies about the critical understanding these concepts and principles (Corby, 2006). Contemporary guidelines and developments in the United Kingdom have prejudiced strategies in protecting children to cuddle a great deal responsibility with a focus on recognition, early intrusion and deterrence (Davies, Duckett 2008).
With the concept of protecting the child and improving the quality of child protection services, Professor Eileen Munro published a review, The Child’s Journey by the year of 2007. The first report of this review helped in offering an analysis of unintentional consequences of past developments that aroused within child protection system (Munro, 2007). It completed by ascertaining that professionals are forced from maintaining attention on the child by the difficulty and inflexibility produced in investigations and conventions. Diverse areas recognized for development at this specific stage of re-examination associate, consequently, to these elements of the system (Munro, 1995). To support further changes, the review panel has been functioning in partnership with five different organisations who have appealed superior litheness when calculating the desires of children with an ultimate goal of distributing enhanced results and more directed approaches. This review explains that a good child safeguarding system must be concerned with child’s journey by a system from desiring and receiving help, keeping a clear focus on children’s best interests and throughout. This involves developing expertise and the presence of organisational environment that assist professionals in functioning with children, adolescents and families to provide more assistance (Munro1995; Munro 2007).
In addition, professionals working in various agencies with children and adults who possess parenting rights exchange a common commitment to protect and promote the welfare of the child and for many agencies this feature is underpinned by statutory duties (Howarth 2004; Howe 2005). The guidelines about these duties were explained in the document of “Making Arrangements to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children” published in 2007 (Department of Children, Schools and Families, 2007). Under the Education Act 2002, the laws governing the duties of local authorities in carrying out the functions with a view of safeguarding children and enhancing their welfare was depicted and the same duty was now imposed upon independent schools, academies and technological institutions and colleges (Education Act, 2002). Additionally, the Children Act 2004, independent schools that offer accommodation to children also contain a duty in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children under the threat of abuse (Children Act, 2004). The document on Every Child Matters: Change for Children, provides information about the local authorities and their arrangements in place to necessitate combined working with each other and with their parents in improving the child’s wellbeing and quality of life (Department of Education and Skills, 2004).
Besides these, to fulfil the responsibilities and to protect the child, each and every organisation must provide their specific services for children, parents and families must support or work with children and should have in place the following guidelines (London Child Protection Council, 2007):
Defined priorities for protecting and promoting the child welfare as stated explicitly in key documents that are concerned to policies and commissioning approaches (HMSO, 2004).
Social workers must develop a culture of engaging with the children, asking their views in the appropriate way to their age, understanding, analysing and considering the obtained views in establishing and developing specific policies as well as in improving the services (Bridge Care Development, 1996).
A determined commitment by senior officials and subordinates to the significance of protecting children and enhancing their well-being.
An unambiguous line of ascendancy and responsibility within and across the firms for providing and commissioning services for safeguarding the children (Department of Education and Skills 1988; Department of Health, 1995).
Developing an understanding about the work pattern in a way to keep the child safe with relation to innovative technologies by being properly equipped to mitigate the potential risks of new methodologies.
Designing procedures for dealing with the abuse and its allegations against staff members, volunteers, commissioners and providing contractual arrangements to make sure about the proper placement of these services.
Making arrangements for the staff and social workers to necessarily train the families who are involved in child abuse and this must be updated through refresher training techniques (London Child Protection Council, 2007).
Appointing child advisers and enabling easy access to staff during service delivery at times needed. Additionally, arrangements must be made to promote effective prevention of internal and external challenges and complaints in relation to access and service delivery (London Child Protection Council, 2007).
Nevertheless, implementation of these duties present a potential challenges for social workers and these may hinder the process of protection and promotion of child’s welfare. One such challenge can be on facing difficulties to reach the child abuse families and these include:
Cultural issues: relating to ethnicity and society.
Language Barriers: This can be observed with the families who may not be able to gain service access owing to their illiteracy and these families that demand an urgent need of interpreting service (for example, marginalised community like asylum speakers who may speak limited or no English). Nevertheless, the usage of interpreters may seem to be critically expensive and difficult in times of limited resources. Besides these, Domestic Violence also plays a significant role in making families difficult to reach by the social workers (Powell, 2007). The violent, aggressive and threatening families present complexities for the social workers in establishing the relationships with that family in order to spend time with the child, listening to them and understanding their views (Reder et al., 1993).
Functioning with families and disabled children: It can be understood that regardless of level of disability (whether moderate, mild and high), working with the disabled child critically presents a challenge to the social worker (Davies, Duckett 2008). Yet, the challenge remains still if the child’s speech is impaired. In such cases, the social workers must rely on the information presented by their parents and other professionals like (Doctors, Speech and language therapists and Psychiatrists, Nursing and other health care skilled workers) who are involved in working with the child.
Inter-personal conflicts: The behaviours pertaining to jealousy, job dissatisfaction, superiority feelings, certainty (being inflexible in one’s willingness in listening to others) and win-lose mentalities also present a challenge to the social workers. But these are minimal and can be avoided by a proper planning and involvement (Quinton, 2004).
In case, if the workers understand that they are being oppressed, Anti-oppressive practices may be employed in a way to identify the oppression in societies, communities, economies and cultures and aiming social work in such a way to negate the critical influences of oppression (Powell, 2007)
Lastly working with the individuals from distinct professionals may offer a challenge for the social workers. However this can be avoided by implementing medical and social models that imbibe the principles pertaining to both health and other fields (Quinton, 2004).
Further research is definitely needed to focus upon the effectiveness of current interventions and practices. In addition, the protocols that are relative to different techniques utilised by practitioners are essential and they must be implemented after testing. In addition, there exists a requirement to establish particular age-related treatment models for childhood abuse and this should be followed by specific longitudinal studies that focus on outcomes of treatment models for further more effective implementation. Although much research was been explored in the area of abuse, still more is needed to efficiently address the issues and this can be enabled by the presence of determined individuals and parents in understanding about the child development and protection.
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