Making Children Feel Safe Social Work Essay

The Keeping Children Safe (KCS) Coalition quotes ‘KCS is currently made up of eighteen agencies committed to creating a safer world for children. The coalition recognises that all organisations coming into contact with children have a fundamental duty of care towards them. The coalition acknowledges the responsibilities to keep children safe in both relief and development interventions. The coalition is committed to safeguarding and aim to achieve the highest level of protection for children with whom we come into contact and to work towards achieving the international standards developed by the KCS. All agencies consistently work towards achieving them and we expect to be held to account accordingly’. KCS, (2010)

A hazard is simply a feature of the physical or social environment that is capable of causing harm: almost anything can be a hazard to somebody. Risk, on the other hand, is a double estimate of probability: how likely is it that something will happen, and what are the likely consequences if it does? Risk has been defined mathematically as the product of the probability and the utility of a possible future event (Adams, 1996).

Beck (1992) argues that ‘risk is socially defined and constructed and as such is malleable and changeable. Theoretically, risk can be positive or negative – so that we can talk about the ‘risk’ of, for example, winning the Lottery – but in everyday usage risk usually has a negative connotation.

Blewett and Foley quote ‘The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) enshrines a broad range of rights and principles that have also influenced developments in safeguarding children and child welfare in the UK.’ (Blewett and Foley, 2008 pg 182). For example:

‘Article 19 – Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for, and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents or anyone else who looks after them’. (UNCRC, 1989)

Blewett and Foley quote ‘A protective environment has many components, but the key to building such an environment is that it is recognised as a collective responsibility, with an agreement that all members of a society can contribute to keeping children safe. This is the approach taken by the international children’s organisation the UNICEF in its Childhood Under Threat report (2004). (Blewett and Foley, 2008 pg 178)

The protective environment

‘Capacity of families and communities: All those who interact with children – parents, teachers, and religious leaders alike – should observe protective child-rearing practices and have the knowledge, skills, motivation and support to recognize and respond to exploitation and abuse.

Government commitment and capacity: Governments should provide budgetary support for child protection, adopt appropriate welfare policies to protect children’s rights, and ratify with few or no reservations international conventions concerning children’s rights and protection’. (UNICEF, 2004, p. 6)

The Staying Safe Action Plan is being published in response to the Staying Safe consultation on the first ever cross-Government strategy for improving children and young people’s safety.  Staying Safe was launched for consultation in July 2007, and during the consultation period, parents, children, young people and general public and practitioners were asked about their concerns in relation to children’s safety. Consequently, ‘The Plan sets out the work which Government will take forward over the next three years to drive improvements in children and young people’s safety, which will be measured to improve children and young people’s safety. 

The Plan covers three main areas:

Universal safeguarding, involving work to keep all children and young people safe and to create safe environments for them

Targeted safeguarding to reduce the risks of harm for vulnerable groups of children and young people

Responsive safeguarding, involving responding effectively when children are harmed’. DCSF (2008)

The overarching aim of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is to help young children achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes to:

Be healthy;

Stay safe;

Enjoy and achieve;

Make a positive contribution

Achieve economic well-being.

The EYFS will achieve this aim by a principled approach to:

Setting standards;

Promoting equality of opportunity;

Creating a framework for partnership working;

Improving quality and consistency;

Laying a secure foundation for future Learning and development.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) states ‘The term ‘safeguarding’ describes the broader preventative and precautionary approach to planning and procedures that need to be in place to protect children and young people from any potential harm or damage. It is about more than child protection, although child protection is one important aspect of safeguarding. Child protection involves recognising signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect and acting on it, while safeguarding involves keeping children and young people safe from a much wider range of potential harm and looks at preventative action, not just reaction. Cyber bullying, bullying and domestic violence are also forms of abuse ‘. (NSPCC, 2006)

The HM Government Document, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ sets out how individuals and organizations should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The guidance has been updated since the previous 1999 version, to reflect developments in practice, policy and legislation’. (HM Government, 2006 pg 18

A Guide for Practitioners: the key changes in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010. The guidance came into force on 1st April 2010. Working Together quotes ‘Given the severity of any ill-treatment suffered or impairment to the child’s health or development, the child’s current needs and the capacity of the family to co-operate, what is the likelihood of achieving sufficient change within the Child’s time frame?’ (HM Government 2010)

The guidance is addressed to all practitioners and front-line managers who have particular responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

A framework for assessing ‘children in need’ has been developed which provides a systematic way of analysing, understanding and recording what is happening to children and young people within their families and the wider context of the community in which they live. From an inevitably complex issues and inter-relationships; clear professional judgements can be made. These judgements include whether the child being assessed is in need, whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, what actions must be taken and which services would best meet the needs of this particular child and family. The Guidance describes the Assessment Framework and the Government’s expectations of how it will be used. It reflects the principles contained within the UNCRC, ratified by the Government in 1991 and the Human Rights Act 1998. In addition, it takes account of relevant legislation at the time of publication, but is particularly informed by the requirements of the Children Act 1989, which provides a comprehensive framework for the care and protection of children.

Blewett and Foley quote ‘The state’s responsibility for the protection of children has raised important questions for social policy over the last forty years. Debates around the safety of children have been central to the broader child welfare agenda, producing a range of issues for those working with children in statutory and voluntary agencies’ (Blewett and Foley, 2008 pg 179).

Ward suggested ‘that two underlying questions have persisted throughout the series of debates that have arisen around how children can be protected and how they can be helped to stay safe’ (Ward and Rose, 2002).

Fox Harding (1997) identified the following four political and philosophical positions that have been present to greater and lesser degrees in debates about child welfare.

Laissez faire and patriarchy: supports only minimal state intervention in the private life of the family.

State paternalism and child protection: supports extensive state intervention.

The modern defence of the birth family and parents’ rights: also supports extensive state intervention, but believes that such intervention should be primarily supportive, with an emphasis on early intervention and preventative measures.

Children’s rights and child liberation: considers children to be autonomous citizens with full civil rights, like adults.

Disabled children often find themselves in vulnerable situations where they are reliant on the assistance of one or more people in order to live their lives. For example, a blind wheelchair child may not have any opportunity to choose who will support them and how many practitioners will be part of their daily routine. Practitioners will come into the lives of disabled child and go out of their lives and these people have great power and control. Many people would deny that these situations could be called ‘abusive’ and be deemed humiliating, degrading or discriminatory. This is because they would feel their personal actions or corporate practices were being challenged or even threatened. It could be debated, that much of what happens is concerned with ‘educating’ non-disabled people. It is important to expose what takes place in the lives of disabled child in order to begin a thorough examination of such abuse.

Some of the most insidious incidents, which occur in the lives of disabled child, have become common practice. Those who dispense it do not recognize the abuse as cruelty, but those on the receiving end know only too well what is going on. To combat it, disabled children either give up the fight or go on to build their own defensive structures for survival. Disabled children often have their own mechanisms for dealing with abuse, but it can be difficult to have a positive approach when abuse is constantly and consistently being applied. It could be debated, that much of what happens is concerned with ‘educating’ non-disabled people. It is important to expose what takes place in the lives of disabled child in order to begin a thorough examination of such abuse.

While children’s fear of crime and victimisation is related to living in poorer neighbourhoods, it is important to recognise that children’s safety and levels of fear can be compromised in many, if not all, neighbourhoods (Blewett and Foley, 2008). Deakin (2006) ‘reinforced this point when reporting on the findings of the Children and Young People’s Safety Survey, a survey of the different forms of victimisation that 2420 young people aged nine to sixteen experienced across a range of different rural and urban localities. The survey found that:

most forms of victimisation involved children of approximately similar ages or children who were slightly older

most problems occurred in either the street or local parks, although a substantial minority of incidents took place within schools’. (Deakin, 2006, pg 198)

Kathryn Cooper quotes ‘there is a big difference between “being safe” and “taking a risk”. I believe that many people automatically think about child protection and safeguarding issues when the subject of risk is raised and in particular abuse in various forms. Whilst this is important and obviously we need to make our children aware of things like stranger danger and internet safety in my opinion the “risk” of our children encountering this is probably quite low. In contrast I think that our children are subjected too much higher risks to their physical wellbeing. Society today generally exposes us to a much more sedentary lifestyle than that experienced by previous generations and the lack of exercise and/or healthy diet in many families poses a much greater risk to children’s long term wellbeing’ (Cooper, 2010)

In conclusion, it is not possible to protect children from stories of abuse or abduction in the news such as Maddie McCann. If a child is upset by a reported case, we can be reassuring. It is critical to stress that these cases are very rare and that almost all children lead safe and happy lives and that only a tiny percentage of adults hurt children in any way.

Building health and safety and risk assessment into the culture of the setting ensures that risk assessments of places, activities and trips. This needs to be built into the culture of the setting and carried out at all venues and for all events and activities. These assessments should involve children and young people in order to raise their awareness of potential dangers and safety measures.

Life Education Centres, our aim is to deliver interactive programmes from nursery through to year 6, teaching about drug and health issues, which actually empower young people to make healthy choices.

‘Staying safe’ 11.2 Listening to children from Saltley Cluster, Birmingham

Simone …

The safety and welfare of children, or Safeguarding, means protecting children from all forms of abuse. It is important we get the facts about safeguarding, so we are aware of the dangers and can protect the children, but it is just as critical we do not panic and overprotect them.

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