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I don’t know about you, but I haven’t stopped thinking about the tragic and brutal death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in June last year, at a time when we are all emerging from the fierce grips of lockdown. I recall how the news story offered some sparse detail on the circumstances of Arthur’s murder, and how the event signalled a focus on the culpability of his father Thomas Hughes and his partner Emma Tustin. Since their recent sentencing, the media has furnished us with more of the details of the cruelty and abuse Arthur suffered at the hands of Tustin and Hughes. Some of which I could scarcely bear to read, watch or hear. The pain and suffering this child endured is captured in one of the few recordings we know of the sound of Arthur’s voice as he cried hours before he died, “No-one loves me”, and “no-one’s going to feed me.” Mr. Justice Wall in passing sentence on both abusers said “This is without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases with which I have had to deal with.”  

Not surprisingly, the death of a child in cases of abuse and neglect gives way to a furore by the public and the media, borne out by the emotional politics of who is or, should be held to account for child protection agencies’ and professionals’ [possible] oversights. Already, in the case of Arthur, a storm is brewing as there are calls for inquiries, reviews and questions on the accountability of those professionals who were involved in safeguarding him. The Justice Secretary Dominic Rabb has announced an intention to raise the sentences for child cruelty as there is a view that Tustin’s and Hughes’ sentences are too lenient. There is to be an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct on the West Midlands police officers involved with Arthur’s story. The Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi is reported as saying “We will not rest until we have the answers we need.”  Similarly, an inquiry has been launched into Solihull’s local children’s services who apparently declared that there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’ about Arthur. Typically, or more often than not, my observations are that social workers are more likely to be in the firing line of accusations and blame. Some of the national press have released the name of a social worker involved in Arthur’s case, and I understand that she has since been vilified and threatened with all types of abuse and threats on social media. This type of thoughtless journalism does nothing to enable a culture of open inquiry and to prevent the witch-hunt approach which is fired up by a culture of blame.

However, my attention also turns to those involved in Arthur’s life who were not professionals but were members of his family, acquaintances, family friends or neighbours. These were people who had caught sight of and heard the distress of this little boy in the four-month period of his terrible abuse and neglect leading up to his death. I am interested in the reports of the child’s grandmothers, his uncle, Tustin’s hairdresser and her husband, Tustin’s stepfather, all of whom reported their concerns, warnings and photographic evidence of the violence that Arthur suffered by Tustin and Hughes. I am very aware that taking the steps to report a child protection concern is daunting and anxiety provoking, for most members of the public. But these steps are necessary in protecting the rights of the child, to advocate for their needs, especially when they are vulnerable and in need of our protection. I talk to my students about dispositions of advocacy for those in need, who are less visible or who are powerless in child protection practice. It takes courage and conviction within every one of us, to say and do the right thing in speaking up for and on behalf of children. These individuals, as non-professionals, reported their concerns about Arthur and in doing so, perhaps believed that this was enough to protect him. But sometimes we do have to keep banging and pushing against the door, to be absolutely sure that we are heard and that our concerns will be responded to and taken seriously. The same goes for professionals in their advocacy for children, the need to push against bureaucracy and hierarchies means that sometimes we might court disfavour or may be regarded as being problematic or ‘difficult’. In Arthur’s case, we may hear some familiar issues in terms of lessons to be learned to prevent such tragedy again. These will likely unfold as issues of poor communications between professionals, burgeoning caseloads of social workers, inadequate supervision, a lack of professional curiosity in Arthur’s home circumstances, or the rule of optimism. The latter having grave implications where professionals are willing to believe the accounts of parents and carers about their children, without question, and being unwilling to think the unthinkable about what risk or harm a child may be facing.  

Our child protection legislation and systems are revered worldwide, my time as Chair of the AoCPP (previously known as BASPCAN), gave much evidence of this in working with world renowned child protection expert practitioners and researchers. Yet, we have no room for complacency, we know this. I am not convinced that we need another review of our child protection systems, what we do need is more trained child protection social workers, who have smaller caseloads and time to actually think, reflect and discuss the children in their radar. We need more robust training for all teachers on safeguarding on child protection, and the same for all police officers. I am especially anxious to see more creative public health approaches in educating our public about their safeguarding duties in protecting the children who trust them, rely upon them and need them to advocate for them. To keep banging and pushing on the door to ensure that their concerns about vulnerable children are heard.

Finally, as I write I am conscious of the fact that we are in the days approaching Christmas and I suppose my thoughts are about how I exit my Blog on a lighter note? It is difficult given the nature of what I have shared with you in terms of my thoughts. But I remember the story of 8 year-year-old Virginia O’ Hanlon who wrote to the Editor of The New York Sun in 1897, as she was very troubled because one of her friends told her that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. The Editor kindly responded in a most beautiful and caring way. What follows is an extract of his letter, he wrote ‘Yes, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist… How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be a world as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.’

There is a part of me that wishes that such kindness and thoughtfulness as seen  in the exchange of this old letter from adult to child, could have been extended to Arthur in the months from March to June of last year. Perhaps, this may have been a very different story.

Claire Richards is the Course Leader for the MA Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence at the University of Worcester, please see further:

MA Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence

Email contact: c.richards@worc.ac.uk  

Today's episode is a Child Abuse Review Special where we hear from researchers and academics who've published articles in our Journal.

In this episode Wendy Thorogood, Director of the Association of Child Protection Professionals talks to Dr Lauren Lines about her research paper recently published in our journal, Child Abuse Review, titled ‘Constructing a Compelling Case: Nurses’ Experiences of Communicating Abuse and Neglect’. 

This article was published in Child Abuse Review, Volume 30, Issue 4, July/August 2021, Pages 332-346. Members can access the full paper here or by signing into the member’s area.

Dr Lauren Lines (RN, BNhons, MN, PhD) is a Lecturer in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University, Australia. Lauren has a paediatric nursing background, working for almost 10 years in paediatric acute care. At present, Lauren teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate specialist paediatric/child health nursing. Lauren’s PhD (2020) explored nurses' experiences of addressing child abuse in Australian child-focused settings. Lauren’s current research - the Safeguarding Project (funded by Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant) - is identifying the nature and scope of Australian nursing and midwifery roles in a public health approach to preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect. 

Wendy Thorogood is a retired Designated Nurse Consultant for children with NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) based in Dorchester. She trained at St Guy's hospital in London, specialising in child and adult nursing intensive care and cardiac and renal transplants.

Wendy delivered the national leadership programme for safeguarding for the Department of Health and worked directly with the NHS Confederation in relation to current changes ;providing assurance that current and future providers of services are compliant in relation to safeguarding national and local standards;working with Lead Commissioners and the performance team to develop agreed key performance indicators and safety metrics for providers;identifying and taking appropriate action on key risks and issues across commissioned services that may affect safeguarding of children, young people.

Wendy has also spent time working in South Africa in a maternity unit, within a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Kent, and has worked with drug users to improve maternal care - a project that still runs today.

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We started this podcast at the beginning of lockdown to support professionals continuing to work with vulnerable children, and families, under unprecedented circumstances. 

With the goal of alleviating the pressure child protection professionals are under, we’ve brought together leading experts within research and practice to impart their knowledge of the latest issues in child protection and safeguarding.

Eighteen months and thousands of downloads later, we want to hear from YOU about what you would like to hear in upcoming episodes.

Whether it’s a particular topic you want discussed, or a particular person you want invited on the show. We want to ensure that the podcast reflects what you need.

So feel free to email us at hello@childprotectionprofessionals.org.uk with any suggestions. 

And if you’ve been enjoying listening to this podcast - please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other child protection professionals find us.

Lee Sobo-Allen is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work with previous experience as a qualified social worker in child protection, children with disabilities and adults with learning disabilities. His research interests include social work engagement with fathers. After qualifying as a social worker at the University of Manchester in 1998, Lee worked in the areas of child protection, children with disabilities and adults with learning disabilities. It was during this time that he developed an interest in, and knowledge of, the need to engage with fathers in childcare social work as both a risk and a resource. This interest has continued in his studies, and in his teaching in social work education at a number of universities. Lee is currently undertaking a PhD at Leeds Beckett University where he is currently exploring the engagement of non-resident fathers by social workers as potential alternative carers for their children.

Jonathan Scourfield is Professor of Social Work in Cardiff University, where he has worked for 25 years. He is Deputy Director of CASCADE, the Children's Social Care Research and Development Centre. Before becoming an academic, he worked as a secondary school teacher, group worker in a therapeutic community and probation officer. He was seconded to the Welsh Government, from 2018-21, as specialist policy adviser to the Minister responsible for social care. He is the author of Gender and Child Protection and Working with Men and Health and Social Care (with Brid Featherstone and Mark Rivett).

Steve Myers is previous Director of Social Sciences at the University of Salford. He is a qualified and registered Social Worker with a background in child protection and youth justice. He has worked in both statutory and voluntary organisations and has been involved with the education and training of Social Workers in Higher Education for the past 25 years.

Register your interest for our upcoming event on the "Challenges and opportunities in the engagement and assessment of fathers in child safeguarding" by emailing maureen.gordon@aocpp.org.uk

And if you’re interested in following Lee and Jonathan’s work follow them at @j_scourfield and @SoboAlllen on Twitter.

About the AoCPP Podcast Series

We started this podcast at the beginning of lockdown to support professionals continuing to work with vulnerable children and families, under unprecedented circumstances. 

With the goal of alleviating the pressure child protection professionals are experiencing, we’ve brought together leading experts within research and practice to impart their knowledge of the latest issues in child protection and safeguarding. The AoCPP is committed to ensuring that whether you’re out on the frontline, delivering your services at home, or even on furlough, you are able to stay informed.

Eighteen months and thousands of downloads later, we want to hear from YOU about what you would like to hear in upcoming episodes. Whether it’s a specific topic you want discussed, or a particular person you want invited on the show, we want to ensure that the podcast reflects what you need.

So feel free to get in touch with any suggestions. 

And if you’ve been enjoying listening to this podcast - please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other child protection professionals find us.

Wendy Thorogood, Director of the AoCPP, talks to Ian McNicholl about what we as professionals need to know about domestic abuse against men.

Wendy Thorogood, Director of the AoCPP, talks to Ian McNicholl about what we as professionals need to know about domestic abuse against men.

Welcome to Association of Child Protection Professionals' Podcast, a podcast where we, alongside guest hosts, share with you the latest in child and adult safeguarding. 

In today's episode Wendy Thorogood, Chair of the Association of Child Protection Professionals talks to Ian McNicholl about what we as professionals need to know about domestic abuse against men.

In just 14 months, Ian McNicholl migrated from being a picture of health, a homeowner, a successful businessman and financially comfortable to becoming permanently scarred, registered disabled, homeless, a Benefit Claimant and on the verge of Bankruptcy. Following criminal proceedings, his Female Perpetrator received a custodial sentence of 7 Years for Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent. Ian has shared his traumatic events via both local and national media outlets and presented at numerous conferences in order to raise awareness and enhance existing levels of understanding within the Domestic Abuse profession, therefore encouraging more Victims to come forward.

Ian is an ambassador for “Men Reaching Out” and a member of both the “Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse” (EIDA) and the “Men & Boys Coalition”.

Wendy Thorogood is a retired Designated Nurse Consultant for children with NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) based in Dorchester. She trained at St Guy's hospital in London, specialising in child and adult nursing intensive care and cardiac and renal transplants. Wendy delivered the national leadership programme for safeguarding for the Department of Health and worked directly with the NHS Confederation in relation to current changes, including: providing assurance that current and future providers of services are compliant in relation to safeguarding national and local standards; working with Lead Commissioners and the performance team to develop agreed key performance indicators and safety metrics for providers; and identifying and taking appropriate action on key risks and issues across commissioned services that may affect safeguarding of children, young people.

Wendy has also spent time working in South Africa in a maternity unit, within a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Kent, and has worked with drug users to improve maternal care - a project that still runs today.

About the AoCPP Podcast Series

We started this podcast at the beginning of lockdown to support professionals continuing to work with vulnerable children and families, under unprecedented circumstances. 

With the goal of alleviating the pressure child protection professionals are experiencing, we’ve brought together leading experts within research and practice to impart their knowledge of the latest issues in child protection and safeguarding. The AoCPP is committed to ensuring that whether you’re out on the frontline, delivering your services at home, or even on furlough, you are able to stay informed.

Eighteen months and thousands of downloads later, we want to hear from YOU about what you would like to hear in upcoming episodes. Whether it’s a specific topic you want discussed, or a particular person you want invited on the show, we want to ensure that the podcast reflects what you need.

So feel free to get in touch with any suggestions. 

And if you’ve been enjoying listening to this podcast - please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other child protection professionals find us.

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Links

Wendy Thorogood, Director of the AoCPP, talks to Kirsty Kitchen from Birth Companions about their work supporting women in pregnancy and early motherhood and what child protection professionals can learn from their experience.

Welcome to Association of Child Protection Professionals' Podcast, a podcast where we, alongside guest hosts, share with you the latest in child and family safeguarding. 

In today's episode Wendy Thorogood, Director of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, talks to Kirsty Kitchen from Birth Companions about their work supporting women in pregnancy and early motherhood and what child protection professionals can learn from their experience.

Kirsty Kitchen is Head of Policy and Communications at Birth Companions – a charity specialising in the needs and experiences of women facing disadvantage and inequality in pregnancy and early motherhood. Birth Companions’ frontline services and influencing work seeks to improve the care and outcomes of women affected by the criminal justice, social services and immigration systems during the 1001 critical days from conception to a child’s second birthday.

Wendy Thorogood is a retired Designated Nurse Consultant for children with NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) based in Dorchester. She trained at St Guy's hospital in London, specialising in child and adult nursing intensive care and cardiac and renal transplants. Wendy delivered the national leadership programme for safeguarding for the Department of Health and worked directly with the NHS Confederation in relation to current changes, including: providing assurance that current and future providers of services are compliant in relation to safeguarding national and local standards; working with Lead Commissioners and the performance team to develop agreed key performance indicators and safety metrics for providers; and identifying and taking appropriate action on key risks and issues across commissioned services that may affect safeguarding of children, young people.

Wendy has also spent time working in South Africa in a maternity unit, within a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Kent, and has worked with drug users to improve maternal care - a project that still runs today.

About the AoCPP Podcast Series

We started this podcast at the beginning of lockdown to support professionals continuing to work with vulnerable children and families, under unprecedented circumstances. 

With the goal of alleviating the pressure child protection professionals are experiencing, we’ve brought together leading experts within research and practice to impart their knowledge of the latest issues in child protection and safeguarding. The AoCPP is committed to ensuring that wether you’re out on the frontline, delivering your services at home, or even on furlough, you are able to stay informed.

Eighteen months and thousands of downloads later, we want to hear from YOU about what you would like to hear in upcoming episodes. Whether it’s a specific topic you want discussed, or a particular person you want invited on the show, we want to ensure that the podcast reflects what you need.

So feel free to get in touch with any suggestions. 

And if you’ve been enjoying listening to this podcast - please rate, review and subscribe as it helps other child protection professionals find us.

Call for Abstracts: Child Abuse Review Special Issue 2023 

Theme: Young People's Friendships and Safeguarding

Adolescence (10–25 years) is a time in an individuals' life where, in many social contexts, peer relationships increase in influence in many Western societies. When considered in the context of young people's experiences of violence and abuse, young people's friendships and wider peer relationships can:

And yet, research agendas that have informed the development of social work and wider service responses to child abuse and maltreatment have predominantly focused on abuse and protection through parent–child relationships and family contexts, failing to engage with peer dynamics of safety and harm. Moreover, these services are largely delivered by adults to young people, while young people assess support through peers who have limited understanding or strategies to recognise and support this help-seeking.

This special issue will draw together a multi-disciplinary body of thought to illuminate associations between young people's friendships, and peer relationships, and their experiences of abuse and protection. In doing so it will signal opportunities for, and challenges with, developing responses suitable for safeguarding adolescents.

The guest editors of this special issue invite contributions which:

We welcome contributions in the form of Original Articles or Short Reports from researchers in fields including social work, sociology, psychology, criminology, geography, education and others. We also welcome Short Reports or Continuing Professional Development articles from practitioners involved in the development of service or system responses to young people who have experienced harm or abuse. For this special issue the guest editors are also keen to receive contributions from young people, in partnership with researchers or practitioners, who have been involved in projects that evidence or consider the influence of peer relationships and friendship on young people's safety.

Themes

Priority themes for this special issue include:

Peer relationships and their associations to child abuse in adolescence including:

Help-seeking and protection within peer relationships including:

Peer interventions to increase the safety of young people during adolescence including:

Guest Editors

If you would like to discuss a possible contribution, please contact one of our guest editors:

Important Dates

Papers will be subject to Child Abuse Review’s normal peer review procedures. See Author Guidelines

Child Abuse Review is seeking to expand its network of expert Peer Reviewers for the Continuing Professional Development section

The Journal  

Child Abuse Review is a multi-disciplinary journal, providing the latest research, training initiatives and practice developments for all those involved with child protection and safeguarding. The journal publishes six issues a year, including peer reviewed research, continuing professional development papers and an increasing number of Open Access articles.

The journal is supported by a dynamic and diverse international Editorial Board, including nine Associate Editors, a Statistical Editor and an Editorial Manager. It has an Impact Factor of 1.19 and has a successful and expanding social media presence @Child_Abuse_Rev.

Continuing Professional Development

The Continuing Professional Development section invites 2,000 word submissions from practitioners, which highlight issues and implications for contemporary practice. Each submission is peer reviewed by two reviewers with expertise in the field and when accepted, becomes part of a contemporary forum for practice knowledge. Submitting authors can use accepted papers to evidence professional revalidation or accreditation.

The Continuing Professional Development section makes occasional Call for Papers on relevant themes, including a recent successful Call for reflective submissions on the impact of Covid-19.

Peer Reviewing

Due to expanding interest, the Continuing Professional Development section is seeking to expand its network of expert Reviewers. This provides an opportunity to read the latest research, evidence accreditation and expand CPD.  

Peer reviewers should have experience of one of the multi-disciplinary fields of expertise included in the journal’s remit, as well as knowledge and proficiency in a relevant area of safeguarding and child protection.

Further details and informal discussion please contact Dr Denise Turner, Associate Editor for CPD: drdeniset@gmail.com

Join the Editorial Team! Child Abuse Review is seeking to appoint a Book Reviews Editor.


Position now filled

Child Abuse Review, the official journal of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, published by Wiley and covered by the Social Science Citation Index, has a vacancy for the post of Book Reviews Editor.

The Book Reviews Editor will manage all aspects of the book review process and work with the two journal Editors, Jane V. Appleton (Oxford Brookes University) and Peter Sidebotham (Warwick Medical School) and the Editorial Manager, and also join the team of Associate Editors. About Child Abuse Review 

Responsibilities 

The Book Reviews Editor's responsibilities include:

How to apply

Please send a CV including list of publications with a short letter outlining your interest and suitability for the post by Monday 16 August 2021 to: child.abuse.review@aocpp.org.uk

For more information, please contact Editorial Manager Diane Heath