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The following essay examines a case study on a young child that was sexually abused and murdered by a known sex offender, and the serious case review that was written on the case. This essay will also discuss the basic legal policies and the frame work of the Children Act 1989, 2004 and Every Child Matters: National Service Framework. It will demonstrate the understanding of the different types of abuse, an understanding of the child protection system and how it applies to the common assessment frame work. Also the importance of working in a child centred manner will be understood. This essay will criticise the different approaches of multi-professional tactics on child protection. It will take a look at the Lord Laming and Munro reports that were put in place between the death of Victoria Climbie and baby P and safeguarding reforms planned to prevent future deaths.
Zuzanna Zommer was a 14 year old girl who came to live the United Kingdom with her parents and young bother from Poland. Not long after the move, Zuzanna was sexually abused and murdered by a known sex offender named Michael Clark who lived two doors down from the Zommer’s. Unknown to the family and his past history, Clark befriended the Zommer family and would go to family barbeques (Brooke 2008). See appendix 1. Statistics show that nearly a quarter of young adults are sexual abused during childhood, in 2010 and 2011 17.727 children under the age of sixteen were sexually abused in England and Wales (NSPCC 2012).
Several agencies failed in the case of Zuzanna Zommer (BBC News England 2012) due to failed communication between agencies. Michael Clark moved to Leeds after being released from Hull prison prior to meeting the Zommer. Humberside police failed to provide the public protection agencies in Leeds with enough warning that Clark would be moving to the area (BBC News England 2012). See appendix 2
A serious case review was released in March 2012 on Zuzanna Zommer which states that Clark’s childhood was ‘unhappy’. His parents divorced when he was three years old and was brought up by his mother and stepfather, of which he witnessed domestic violence with his mother regularly using physical abuse. Clark was bullied at school and then expelled from junior school before going to a school for the deaf (Cocker 2012). See appendix 3 Over the past thirty years, theories of child maltreatment have shifted from single- cause models (e.g. the transgenerational transmission of child maltreatment, which saw children who grew up with abuse becoming abusive adults) to more integrated and multi-faceted perspectives, emphasising instead a number of interacting factors (Azar et al, 1998; Thomas et al, 2003). Research repeatedly suggests that a history of childhood abuse is associated with low educational attainment and poor physical and mental health in adulthood (Gilbert et al, 2009b;
Safeguarding and protecting children are supported by a complicated system of legislation, guidance, regulation, and procedures (Stafford,Vincent,Parton 2010).
Within the UK, the Department of Health defines child maltreatment in terms of “inflicting harm” and/or “by failing to act to prevent harm” to children (Department of Health, 2006 p26).
“Significant” is not defined in the Act, although it does say that the court should compare the health and development of the child “with that which could be reasonably expected of a similar child”. So the courts have to decide for themselves what constitutes “significant harm” by looking at the facts of each individual case (NSPCC factsheet 2012 p2)
Within the overall category of child maltreatment, four categories of abuse are traditionally recognised (WHO, 2006) World Health Organisation (2006) Preventing child maltreatment: a guide to taking action and generating evidence. World Health Organization and International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. The abuse towards Zuzanna Zommer took 11 months to result in her death during which the sexual abuse of the child went undetected. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/9241594365_eng.pdf [Accessed 25 Feb 2010]
Sidebotham et al (2006) observed that a wide range of factors are associated with child maltreatment, with the strongest risks coming from socio-economic deprivation and parental background, including poor mental health. Community-level variables consistently linked to child maltreatment include lack of social support (including the availability of childcare), neighbourhood poverty and the accessibility of alcohol (Coulton et al, 1995; 1999; 2007; Korbin et al, 1998; Molnar et al, 2003). Social factors, such as beliefs about using physical punishment to discipline children and the portrayal of violence and sex in the media may additionally contribute to abusive behaviour towards children (Belsky, 1993; Straus and Mathur, 1996). Belsky, J. (1993) Etiology of child maltreatment: A developmental-ecological analysis. Psychological Bulletin 114: 413-434.
Following the death of Victoria Climbie, who was known to the social services and many other agencies within the social sector?
Victoria’s parents stated “they had noted that the social worker blames the doctors, front line staff blames the management, mangers blame the council, and the councils blame the government for lack of funding”. Response to the fallings were ‘I am poorly managed’, ‘not my job’, (Laming,2003, evidence 19 February 2002,p97).
Lord Laming was invited to carry out an enquiry looking at the situations leading up to Victoria’s death. His report had a 108 recommendation to safe guard children in the future, this inquiry became known as “the Laming Report” (Laming 2003).
Deryk Mead of Action for Children stated, “I do believe that inquiry reports have made a positive difference to the child protection system, and I have every confidence that Lord Laming’s report will do so too” (Katwala and Ciglerova 2003 p5).
However there was some criticism to his report Caroline Abrahams and Debora Lightfoot from the Action for Children stated the report was looking more at the case of Victoria Climbie and not at children in general in regards to child protection (Abraham and Lightfoot 2003).
.According to Harry Ferguson, a professor of social work at the University of the West of England, “Laming’s report focuses too heavily on the implementation of new structures and fails to understand the keen intuition that child protection work demands”. (Ferguson 2003 p5)
All areas of the UK have policies to safeguard children and young people, to be able to protect them and advertise their general well-being. In 2006 Working Together was re- published on which ideas have been further developed which was again called Working Together to safeguarding Children: A Guide to inter- agency Working to Safeguarding and Promote The Welfare of Children (HM Government 2006).
In 2004 England and Wales were the first to deliver the policy frame work Every Child Matters and recognised the five outcome for children and young people. This was a response to the Laming Report (2003) and to safeguarding children (Department of health 2002). From this the Common assessment framework (CAF) was implemented and used when assessing children and family’s Suffolk County Council (2012)
Every Child Matters was planned to be put in place in 2008, however before it was due to be released the tragic death of baby P happened and the medias response was very critical to all the services involved in his case (Stafford,Vincent,Parton 2010). The system had failed again baby p there had been over sixty visits with the family different health and social care professional he died after 48h of being in hospital (Stafford,Vincent,Parton 2010).
Criticism has been made regarding Every Child Matters and the Children Act 2004 on what should have been a positive social policy programme, is that it only relates to England.
Hilton and Mills (2006) Stated that Every Child matters invades the rights of children’s privacy under article 8 of the European Convention Rights. The loss of space the officer of the Information Commissioner found that children themselves were worried about the invasion of their own privacy (Hilton and Mills 2006).
“While they create a way of seeing and suggest a way of acting, they also tend to create ways of not seeing, and eliminate the possibility of actions associated with alternative views of the world”.(Morgan, 1986, p 202)
Other criticism has been made regarding Every Child Matters and the Children Act 2004 on what should have been a positive social policy programme, is that it only relates to England (Hoyle 2012)
All areas of the United Kingdom are committed to promoting all areas of the national frame work for young people and children. (Stafford,Vincent,Parton 2010).
There is no separate legislation for child protection but legislation covers child’s welfare, including support for children in need and children in need of protection (Lindon 2008). While all parts of the United Kingdom have had some restructuring in recent years to the child protection policy, not much change has been done to the legislation. The children Acts which was put in place the 1980s and 1990s these acts are an intervention in family life to help protect children from abuse and neglect ,and the definition of ‘significant harm’ and ‘children in need’ theses have not been amended (Owen,2009)
The 1989 Children Act still remains, but the Children act 2004has made some amendments. “The Children Act 2004 is primarily about new statutory leadership roles, joint planning and commissioning of children’s services, and how organisation ensure their functions are discharged in a way which safeguards children and promotes the welfare” (Owen 2009 p.17). Section eleven enforced agencies that are working with children and young people to safeguard and promote their welfare, another change was that the Child Protection Committees were replaced by Local Safeguarding Boards ((Stafford,Vincent,Parton 2010).
In 2010 the Government- commissioned Professor Eileen Munro to evaluate the safe guarding practice one of the recommendation was to ask that the ministers establish a national chief social worker whom will advise minister and that the council should be obliged to ensure “sufficient provision such as sure start and other support schemes”.(Butler 2010)
“The report found that safeguarding had indeed become overly dependent on procedures and paperwork, with frontline professionals spending over 60% of their time in front of computer screens”(Butler 2010 p4)
Munro said: “A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right way for child protection services to operate. Top-down government targets and too many forms and procedures are preventing professionals from being able to give children the help they need and assess whether that help has made a difference.”( Munro review 2010)
Some key weakness were found in with the Munro Review this was from social workers, stating that the review states what is being done but dose “not offer the path to a better child protection system” in the future? (Parliament 2012).
In Conclusion this essay has examined an horrific news report on the sexual abuse and the death of Zuzanna Zommer and the back ground of her perpetrator it has looked at how the system failed to protect her from such an ordeal. It has also
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