'Don’t make assumptions’: Children’s and young people’s views of the child protection system and messages for change
The aim of this research, commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and carried out by a team from the University of East Anglia, was to seek children and young people’s views of the child protection system and to consider how those views might contribute to improving responses to abuse and neglect. It aimed to gather the views of children and young people living with their parents, who all had a child protection plan in place.
Jeanette Cossar, Dr Marian Brandon and Peter Jordan are members of the Centre for Research on the Child and Family in the School of Social Work and Psychology at the University of East Anglia
Three key findings emerged from this research. These are that:
•Children develop their own ways of dealing with their worries and these need to be understood;
•Their relationship with their social worker is fundamental and assists them to participate in the child protection process;
•And social workers need to be aware of the impact of the child protection system itself on children as well as the risk of harm from the abuse which brought them into the system.
Key recommendations for government are:
•Good skills in communicating with children, based on detailed knowledge of child development, are needed in order to form meaningful relationships with children. Child development and child-centred communication skills should therefore be a key focus of social work training and continuing professional development.
•Guidance on good practice needs to be easily accessible and its importance to the quality of practice and professional development promoted.
•Local authorities should have a forum where children who are receiving services but are not in care can contribute their views of the child protection process and have an impact on practice and service development.