What is Child Protection?
Child protection is something all people working with children should know a lot about, not only be able to identify the different types of abuse, but most of all know what to do.
Abuse takes many different forms these are broken down into four main ‘types of abuse’:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
Another type of abuse that most people don’t think of is a ‘Failure to protect’, for example the mother who allows a child to be sexually or physically abused by there partner.
Where one type of abuse is occurring another is likely to be happening too, for example if a child is being sexually abused they are likely to be being emotionally abused too.
Some long term effects of child abuse - if no intervention is provided
- Diminished life chances failing to reach their potential
- Poor educational achievement
- Behavioral / discipline problems at school
- Low self-worth
- Suicidal ideas
- Mental health difficulties
- Substance / alcohol abuse
- Criminal behavior
- Disturbed adult sexual functioning
The longer the duration of abuse the greater the impact
The effects of trauma on brain development and childhood learning
The body responds to its environment; this is truer for a child than an adult. In looking at brain function research shows a whole range of impacts of an abusive or stressful environment. These affects may be far reaching and underlay a great deal of behaviors as adults.
So why do people do this?
The reasons people abuse or neglect children vary from drug / alcohol use to the way people were brought up themselves, there really are so many reasons its impossible to list them all in a blog. A lot of abuse isn’t really seen as abuse by the perpetrators, often it is just part of normal life and what the parents themselves went through as a child. Parents tend to parent in the same way they were cared for as children, abuse can go through the generations, familiarity with something can normalize it and make it acceptable. For example, hitting a child as ‘it never did me any harm’.
Very few forms of abuse are pre planned involving predatory people, most often abuse occurs by people the child knows well.
The need to work together
After cases like Baby P it is always said that people and professionals involved with the family need to work together. EVERY TIME.
The problem is that everyone knows only a little bit of information that by itself may be a little concerning but isn’t that bad. It’s always seen as someone else’s job as to who should collect all this information, there is rarely an urgency to pass this information on and people just sit on the information, or think that other people already know of it. This is both within departments as much as between different disciplines. For example, a teacher may have some information about a child, but they might see it as the Social Worker who should approach them rather than them taking action to report it, after all it’s not their job.
The issue is that until all these ‘bits’ of information are brought together no one can see how it all fits together, it is only at this point that the real concerns can be understood and action taken.
All people working or having an involvement with children have a responsibility to ‘safeguard’ or to do all they can to ensure a child is free from abuse and cared for appropriately.
What do you need to know?
There really is so much that we all should know about Child Protection, this is just some information, the very basics. We not only need to know what is and what is not abuse but also how to handle it when a child does make a disclosure of abuse (tells you of it), what do you say? What do you do? And how do you pass this on to the right people!
Here are some links that should help you with all this information and more: