HCS103 topic 8

18 Dec 2019

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HCS103 topic 8

  2. Defining Child Abuse and neglect The World Health Organization (2006) defines child abuse and neglect as; All forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power (p.9)
  3. Decision-making in child protection •Multi-disciplinary •Multi-agency •Risk assessment – technical or moral decisions?
  4. Mandatory reporting • Most Australian states require certain professionals and in some states, members of the public, to report if they have concerns about a child’s welfare. ‘The intent of mandatory reporting is to ensure that children and young people at risk of harm come to the attention of the statutory authority so that they and their families can receive services that will prevent the children from being harmed further’ (Connolly & Cashmore 2013, pp.279-280). • 75% of reports relate to poor families, small proportion of notifications are upheld, the rest get no service (Fernandez 2005). • Increasing number of low-level notifications places pressure on state welfare departments and reports often outstrip resources available to adequately respond (Connolly & Cashmore 2013). NSW Mandatory reporter tool-
  5. Problems of measurement Incidence – number of occasions of child abuse reported, investigated, substantiated, prosecuted – impact of policy of mandatory notification Prevalence – rates of child abuse amongst population of children of legally defined age (construction of childhood) Jurisdictional differences – definitions of ‘child’, ‘abuse’, differences in mandatory reporting, prevention strategies, statistical collections
  6. Practice Dilemmas • Parental rights • Overprotection • Abusive family • Deficits discourse • Cultural difference • State responsibility • Under-protection (child abuse/death inquiries) • Abusive state • Structural causes • Cultural imperialism – deprivation, discrimination care
  7. Gender •Women predominant as clients, carers, practitioners •‘Inadequate’ mothering? • Attachment theory
  8. The Australian context • Influences of UK and European approaches to child welfare • Mid 19th century – establishment of universal schooling • 1800s – state treatment of working class children – transportation to colonies, institutional care, boarding-out, homes for ‘delinquents’ (often destitute, neglected) • 1860s – criticisms of ‘barracks’ system, emergence of ‘family principle’ arguments – use of ‘respectable’ families to board children out
  9. Boarding-out • Paternalistic use of power by state in relation to child, family and substitute family • Idea was to rescue and reform • ‘Inadequately supervised’ children often a target • Focus on physical wellbeing rather than emotional needs and connections to biological family • Supervision and monitoring of carers, particularly women
  10. ‘the child in need of welfare assistance was regarded as the victim of an immoral and socially inadequate family situation, and the implementation of welfare policy usually resulted in the child being segregated’ from his/her family’ (Picton & Boss 1981, cited by Fernandez 2005, pp.182-3)
  11. The authority of the welfare system as a Carer or Custodian Moral or Judicial Guardians • The State reserves the moral right to say who can best look after children • The law is explicit about the best interests of the child being the primary factor in attributing responsibility for care • But the State is itself a deeply flawed provider of care, AND • The law is wary to interdict parental interest.
  12. High intervention rate with indigenous families – a trend that persists today. Overrepresentation of indigenous children in child protection / OOHC and juvenile justice.
  13. Social / Human Services worker roles….? Risk assessment? SW & HS as ‘technical expert’ who can define risk, predict it, differentiate high/low risk? What are some of the underlying assumptions in this approach to human services in child protection?
  14. ‘That child maltreatment occurs across the spectrum of levels of family income and education, or that some forms of child maltreatment are more explicitly linked to socio-economic stress, is acknowledged. However, from the 1990s, commentators have affirmed the need for a more comprehensive strategy that is child- centred, family-focused, and neighbourhood based…which involves a range of systems – physical and mental health, education, justice, housing, and income support – to achieve a broader safety net for children’ (Fernandez 2005, p. 193).
  15. Early intervention • SW theory base - Multidimensional approach, ecological model, strengths based + understanding of attachment theory and bonding vital theory base for social workers • Need to identify ‘at risk’ / ‘vulnerable’ children / families and enhance wellbeing to prevent maltreatment/ neglect/ abuse • Need for both universal and targeted services • Universal - e.g. early childhood education, child & maternal health services to enhance the wellbeing of all children and families. • Targeted – e.g. substance abuse and mental health services as key aspects of the range of early intervention / prevention approach. (Scott 2013).
  16. Working with people who are parents •Tendency to define Parents as Roles rather than people •Parenting relationships with children are stressful and often under-developed. •People generally respond better to supportive than directive interventions •Supportive interventions by definition require the forming and building of a relationship – takes time! •That problem dependence can overwhelm both the helpee and the helper • Finding answers is not simply about stopping, it is about making alternatives and practicing them.
  17. Population health models for children's welfare • Emerging in response to the “public failure of child protection” (Scott, 2006) • Emphasis on responding to community level disadvantage • Avoids crisis driven interventions, responds to evidence based need, not moral alarm or personal calamity • Tolerates adversity – Is it wrong for children to grow up poor?
  18. Prevention Schools – what is expected for parents of the future re parenting roles? Life skills training, preparation for parenthood, self-protection, available help, community connections
  19. Prevention ‘Foremost, families must be supported in the nurturing of their children. Businesses must recognise and provide services to enhance the parents’ ability to be both competent workers and effective parents. AS a culture our propensity for assuming anyone can and must parent, our fascination with violence and our tendency to socialise children in sex- role stereotypes actively contribute to child maltreatment. This must end. (Crosson-Tower 2002, pp.427-8)
  20. References Australian Government (2018). Child Protection Overview. Retrieved from welfare-services/child-protection/overview Connolly, M. & Cashmore, J. (2013). ‘Child welfare practice’. In Connolly, M. & Harms, L. (eds) 2013. Social work contexts and practice. Melbourne, OUP. Crosson-Tower, C. (2002). Understanding child abuse and neglect. London, Pearson. Gersbach (2018) notes from HCS321. Fernandez, E. (2005). ‘The challenge of child protection’. In Alston, M. & McKinnon (eds) Social work fields of practice. Melbourne, OUP. Scott, D. (2013). ‘Early intervention with families of vulnerable children’. In Connolly, M. & Harms, L. (eds) 2013. Social work contexts and practice. Melbourne, OUP, chapter 19. World Health Organization. (2006). Preventing child maltreatment: A guide to taking action and generating evidence. Geneva: WHO. Retrieved from