Using our direct experience of child abuse in safeguarding training – how and why

“Hello! My name is Siobhan and I was sexually abused as a child.” This is how I begin every conference presentation or training workshop that I run. The change of mood in the room is palpable. It’s like all the caffeine from the morning registration kicks in at once. Delegates suddenly snap back to attention. They want to hear what we have to say. Read more

Toxic terminology

The prevalence of domestic violence, substance misuse and parental mental health issues as risk factors for child maltreatment has been recognised for a long time. It was identified by Marian Brandon and colleagues as a particular factor in serious and fatal cases of maltreatment in the 2003-5 biennial review of Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) (Brandon, Belderson et al. 2008). Read more

What makes for effective training?

In January 2018, I was both surprised & delighted to be the first recipient of the BASPCAN/NSPCC Trainer of the Year award.  I’ve recently been asked to share my thoughts on training; how I’ve developed myself as a trainer and other aspects that may be of interest to others, which I’m delighted to do.  One size never fits all, but hopefully this blog will be of interest to training colleagues! So, what makes for effective training? I have a few thoughts which I’m happy to share . Read more

Are children today seen and heard?

This blog, which is aimed at all those whose work brings them into contact with children and young people, questions why, despite these improvements, the burgeoning children’s rights agenda, and the promises of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, children continue to be marginalised, with their disenfranchisement contributing to both their invisibility and the risk of harm. Read more

Compassion Fatigue – What every social worker must know

"I am always amazed by the lack of knowledge about compassion fatigue, the impact on parents and carers of vulnerable children AND their social workers. After all, it is the one thing most likely to be causing significant issues within a family including withdrawal, rejection and emotional disconnection." Read more

The toxicity of the term ‘toxic stress’

Professor John Devaney examines whether the term "toxic stress" is still helpful to our understanding of child development, and in particular to professional practice. Read more

Domestic Violence and Toxic Stress

Four-year-old Rory was tense as he stood at the door of his nursery playroom.  He balled his fist…and punched.  Within seconds I crouched down by his side.  I enveloped his fist in my hand – Rory was trembling, his muscles taut and ready.  I put my arm around Rory’s waist to guide him gently away from the scene.  Rory’s heart was beating rapidly, too fast for a little child at play.  Beaded sweat dampened his curly hair.  This is toxic stress. Read more

Whose outcome is it anyway? Rethinking ‘outcomes’ in child care and protection

Being outcome led is a primary concern for social work practice. There is a need to address the priorities of vulnerable people within limited resource availability and organisations must be accountable for the services they deliver. Further, identifying good outcomes can help justify intrusion into an individual’s life. Yet what are and how should they be identified and measured in social work practice? It’s not rocket science, is it? An outcome is the result of a chain of events; or is it? Read more

(In)stability- parental substance misuse and child protection

‘Their recycling bin is always full of bottles’ the teacher said to me. I am a social worker doing an assessment with a child where there are concerns about parental alcohol misuse. I know that the teacher is trying to be helpful: to tell me that the parents misuse of alcohol is – potentially -longstanding. Eight or so years on, and I can more readily pick apart how the teachers words reflect wider debates and issues in child protection, not least relating to the surveillance of (some) families. Read more

Tackling sexual harassment, sexual violence and domestic abuse in Higher Education – valuable lessons for primary, secondary and further education settings.

The issues of sexual harassment, sexual violence and domestic abuse on University campuses have received increasing recognition over the last ten years thanks to campaigns by the National Union of Students (NUS, 2010, Cambridge, 2014). In 2014, Public Health England commissioned a review to assess the international evidence regarding ‘what works’ in preventing these problems in a University context. Read more

An interview with Professor Julie Taylor about her involvement in witchcraft research and child protection, conducted by Dr Maria Clark

"Children can experience great psychological or emotional abuse through accusations of witchcraft; measures to rid them of perceived demons or ancestral spirits can be very physically abusive; and some rituals enforce abstinence from food or drink, or severe isolation meaning children are significantly neglected.  As with other children who are physically abused or neglected, they can be vulnerable to multiple forms of maltreatment, including sexual abuse." Read more

Expert Domestic Abuse risk assessment on Fathers who are Perpetrators of Domestic Violence

The safety of children who experience domestic abuse within their families requires specific, evidence based, thoroughly conducted, risk assessment. However, the risk assessments I have read within reports made to the Family Courts have primarily been from the non abusive partner’s perspective. They have assessed the victims’ risk of experiencing harm, rather than including a specific, evidence based, risk assessment with the abusive parent regarding their risk of perpetrating harm. Read more