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Safeguarding Young People Safeguarding Young People Responding to young people aged 11 to 17 who are maltreated Dr Alison Jobe and Dr Sarah Gorin, NSPCC.

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Presentation on theme: "Safeguarding Young People Safeguarding Young People Responding to young people aged 11 to 17 who are maltreated Dr Alison Jobe and Dr Sarah Gorin, NSPCC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Safeguarding Young People Safeguarding Young People Responding to young people aged 11 to 17 who are maltreated Dr Alison Jobe and Dr Sarah Gorin, NSPCC

2 Safeguarding Young People Dr Sarah Gorin Senior Research Officer NSPCC

3 Introduction  Three and a half year project – January 2007 to July 2010  Undertaken jointly by The Children’s Society, NSPCC and the University of York  Funded by the Big Lottery Research Grants Programme  Focused on the under-researched issue of the maltreatment of young people in the UK  Undertaken alongside study on ‘Neglect of Adolescents’ funded by the then DfES

4 Background to the research  Literature review, commissioned by NSPCC in 1999, highlighted the lack of attention to this issue, especially in the UK  Little further development by 2005  Practice experience and anecdotal evidence that there may be a gap in recognition of, and responses to, maltreated young people  Statistical evidence that substantial numbers of young people are maltreated  Evidence that the types of risks facing young people are different to those facing younger children

5 Purpose and aims  The purpose of the research was to explore access to, and initial responses of, Children’s services for young people with potential maltreatment issues in order to: Inform future policy Inform practitioners in voluntary and statutory agencies Inform future training of practitioners In order to:  promote improved protective responses for this target group

6 Research components  International literature review  A study of policy and guidance  A survey of risk assessment and decision-making amongst professionals in 12 local areas  A study of practice in four local areas, including interviews with young people and professionals

7 Today we are going to cover:  Scale of the problem  Statistics from referral data  Information about professionals decision-making about referrals of young people  The referral process as experienced by professionals  The initial response of social care practitioners to referrals and their perspectives  Young people’s experiences of referral and initial responses

8 The scale of the issue  On 31 March 2010 in England: 39,100 children were subject of a Child Protection Plan 10,000 were aged 10 to 15, and 780 young people were aged 16 and over  A quarter of the serious case reviews from were about older young people (Brandon et al, 2009)  Actual prevalence of maltreatment is known to be much higher – Radford et al

9 Statistics on referrals and responses  Statistics were gathered from 4 local authorities on referrals and subsequent actions by age.  These showed that as young people get older a referral is less likely to receive child protection and related responses  The statistics and qualitative interviews highlight the wide variation between and within local authorities in how they deal with young people.

10 Example local area statistics

11 Professionals making referrals The survey and interviews found that:  If professionals thought a young person was at risk of significant harm they were as likely to make a referral as with younger children  However professionals perceptions of the initial risk children and young people were at, was affected by age.

12 Age related factors that influenced professionals decision-making Within their assessments of risk, professionals tended to see young people aged 11 to 17 as:  More competent to deal with maltreatment – escaping the situation and seeking help  More ‘resilient’  More likely to be contributing to and exacerbating situations through own behaviour  More likely to be ‘putting themselves at risk’

13 Influence of age on decision-making If I’ve got an allegation that mum has slapped a child round the face, then I’m not condoning that at all, but if we’re talking about a teenage person who’s been slapped round the face for basically gobbing off at mum, I may take that a little less seriously than if the child is 2 or 3 years old. Because it’s a completely different scenario in my opinion. I appreciate that the assault is exactly the same, but the circumstances are different and you know the response again you know in my opinion can be different. Police Officer

14 During referral process  Working relationships between professionals and Children’s Social Care Services were generally viewed very positively. Good practice examples included: Feeling able to ring Children’s Social Care Services to discuss cases Being able to challenge decisions. Factors that helped were co-location and building consistent relationships with social care practitioners.

15 Obstacles to making referrals  Perception of high thresholds  Complex ethical decisions – e.g. young people not wanting to be referred, sexual relationships with older men  More uncertainty about emotional abuse and neglect  Potential negative impact on young person and families of making referral  Police and education cited resource issues for them in assessing cases and making referrals

16 Safeguarding Young People Dr. Alison Jobe Senior Research Officer NSPCC

17 Initial responses to referrals by Children’s Social Care Services Certain age related factors affected response by Social Work practitioners. These factors included:  Young person’s perceived competence and resilience  Resource issues and the need to prioritise resources  Young people seen as more challenging to engage and work with and have different needs.

18 Prioritising resources Interviewer: Ok, what do you see as the biggest challenges you face in terms of providing protective services for older children? SWP: Prioritising them. That’s got to be it. You know, we are an understaffed team with, you know, worked to the hilt, staff here don’t just don’t have a second in the day at all to take a breather and we can’t, we can’t rush out to a sixteen year old who’s perhaps sofa-surfing and perhaps experimenting with drugs and getting into crime, you know that’s a big worry, but we can’t prioritise that when we’re working with 0 to 5 year olds in, you know, some pretty dire situations. Social work practitioner

19 Ongoing responses to young people Common view was held by social care practitioners that the child protection process was often not the best way of responding to young people because:  Process less relevant when young people put themselves ‘at risk’ or are maltreated outside the family  Difficult to engage young people in Child Protection process  Child Protection process does not allow young people enough involvement/control  Child Protection plans may not be effective if parents are not committed to keeping young people at home.

20 Social work practitioner’s views I think when children get to fourteen & fifteen and are, are a risk to themselves then the child protection system becomes irrelevant to them… Social Work Practitioner The child protection process is pretty irrelevant to teenagers, if you’ve got a child whose hurting themselves for lots of reasons, maybe alcohol misuse, or you know, sexual exploitation or mental health, then they’re a risk to themselves… And it’s very hard to stop people being a risk to themselves, very, very difficult indeed. The child protection plan is not really relevant in that case. In the circumstances where they are at risk to themselves, the child protection process is pretty irrelevant, where there’s been some risk from other people then we would definitely go child protection…. Social Work Practitioner

21 Alternative responses  Dealing with young people through Child in Need route.  Using multi-agency approach e.g. Common Assessment Framework or other multi-agency risk assessment e.g. ‘Team Around the Child’.  These were believed to give young people more autonomy, input and control over the process. Also a lead professional with an existing relationship with the young person could be identified.  However little is known about which process has the best outcomes for young people.

22 Young people’s experiences of seeking help Barriers included:  Ability to develop consistent trusting relationship with a professional.  Potential impact of a disclosure on themselves, family, friends, abuser.  Lack of information about helping agencies, who to approach and how to access help.

23 Importance of developing trusting relationships Cos me and my mum used to cover it up. I used to have bruises, the lot, and we just used to make up stories and just … so at the same time it’s what the child wants to tell you and it’s what the parent wants to tell you. Because things can easily get covered up. Because I’ve done it many a time before and that’s only purely because I was so loyal to my mum and I thought social services were the bad ones. And it’s just … I think that’s when the whole close relationship thing comes in, because if the child really is hurting and they do need someone to talk to, then you’ve got to get their trust first before they’ll do that. Like cos social services just used to walk into my house and think I’m just going to tell them everything and it’s not like that. Anna, aged 17

24 Young people’s experiences of child protection process  Importance of a good relationship with a social worker for disclosure and feeling safe afterwards Interviewer: And what about the second social worker? Laura: She’s really … I’ve still got her now, she’s really, really nice…Like she’s really easy to talk to and really chatty. She’s a lot more helpful than the first one, like I’ve had regular meetings with her, and we’ve done like mind maps of family and like putting people who are closer in the inner circles and stuff like that. Laura, age 15

25 Obstacles to building positive relationships  Numerous social workers.  Not being able to contact social worker.  Lack of clarity- not understanding processes or the roles of different professionals.  Not feeling listened to or informed.  Young people not being given a say/autonomy.  Confidentiality issues.

26 Numerous Social Workers I really think that they should try and keep that same social worker with that child for as long as possible, so then a relationship can get built up, the trust can get built up. And then at the end of the day the social worker will find out a lot more … if she’s just walking in ‘Oh yeah, how are you?’… I think if they expect children to tell them things and put trust in them, then you need to put the work in and be with them for a long period of time, and just make a relationship with them. Because if you’re getting a different social worker every 3 months it’s not going to do anything good for you, it’s just annoying. So it’s just like another suited and booted person walking into your house telling you this is right and this wrong – you don’t want that really. Anna, aged 17

27 Not being able to contact social worker Emma: She just…it emotionally struck me like running straight into a wall, it just knocked the wind out of me, cos it’s everytime something happened I was like [my Social Worker’s] got to come, she just got to come, our families need her and she never showed up, never. Interviewer: Did you contact her at all? Emma: Tried to, phone was always off, or she was always putting it on busy or something, I don’t know. All I know is that she wasn’t doing her job right and I knew that, because if a social worker tells you she’s going to be there at a certain time she’s got to be there at a certain time because she’s assigned for that family. She don’t go there and never show, then she’s obviously not doing her job right and I know that. I weren’t that stupid, I knew she weren’t gonna come. Emma age 14

28 Not listened to or informed Interviewer: What kind of things would you like to us to say to social workers about young people’s experiences- what kind of things should we be telling them? Tom: That they have got to listen because it’s said that every Child has the right to be heard and that’s, because they’re not listening they are just denying people’s rights which is bad because they are supposed to be concerned about children…Well they took Mum away and then they barely even talked to us. They just said hello and then that was literally it. Interviewer: Do you feel that they listened to you? Tom: No, they didn’t talk to us. Interviewer: They didn’t come and see you at all or anything like that. Tom: No, no Tom, aged 12

29 Confidentiality issues Interviewer: Did you understand what was happening or what people were doing? Fatima: No, it all it felt like what ever I told them they would go and tell my mum….so I would just stop telling them Interviewer: What did you expect to happen or what did you want to happen? Fatima: I thought that they were going to help me and not tell my mum when I told them stuff…When my dad, yeah, he came to my new house, yeah. He hit my brother. I told [my social worker] not to say that I told… but then police came to my house and said, ‘Your daughter said that this happened,’ and my brother denied it…and it kicked off again. They ]the police] went and it started again! Fatima, aged 15

30 Summary: Key findings from the research  Responses to young people vary between and within Children’s Social Care Services  Age does not affect professionals’ decisions to refer young people, but does affect assessment of risk  Young people are seen as more resilient than younger children but this is not supported by research  As young people get older they are less likely to receive a Child Protection response  Child Protection is not always seen as the most appropriate response for young people  Resources affect ability of social workers to maintain consistent relationships with young people

31 What can Children’s Social Care Services do now?  Provide clear information to young people going through the safeguarding process  Focus resources on developing consistent relationships between social workers and young people  Listen to young people and involve them more in process  Include age-related issues and resilience in training for social workers  Review how young people move through the safeguarding system and which approach works best for young people

32 Questions Any questions?

33 Further information Executive summary and full report available at: Neglect research available at: Any enquiries: /


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