"Social work has changed a lot. In the past our approach to child protection wasn't very flexible. Now we work more in partnership with families where there are concerns to make sure they get support before things reach a crisis."
- Parents are responsible for their children's safety
- Social Services become involved once a concern is shared
- Decisions about abuse need careful assessment
- Children are best cared for by their own families
- Professionals want to work in partnership with families
- Statistics show that few children are actually removed from home in the course of child protection investigations
Myths and realities
Very few adults harm children deliberately and most often when harm does happen, families need support, not punishment or the removal of their children.
Local authority social workers and other professionals get involved when parents may be unable to protect their child from hard and need some help. In some cases Gwent Police Child Protection Unit will investigate with social workers to help protect children and decide whether an offence has been committed against a child.
There have been lots of negative reports in the media about social workers and what happens when concerns about child abuse are reported.
Many myths exist, so for the record:
1. Child abuse is not easy to recognise, prevent or stop.
It is rarely possible to definitely say that a child has been abused or by whom. A careful assessment is needed in order to find out what has happened and what support and protection will best help the family. As a result it can be difficult to avoid some intrusion into family life. A social worker will ask questions about the family circumstances, consider the frequency and seriousness of the incident and the effect on the child. All of these factors will help decide what should happen next to support and protect the child and family.
Social workers and the Police have a duty (they have no choice about this) under the Children Act 1989 to investigate concerns of child abuse.
2. Professionals are not solely responsible for protection children.
Traditionally, social workers have been expected to make sure that children are safe. In order to do this well, they rely on information from parents, family, other professionals and the local community who all play an important part in identifying concerns about those close to them. This helps to ensure that parents and carers are offered support before the situation becomes far worse.
3. Reporting child abuse rarely results in the child being removed from home.
This is not the main aim of child protection investigations and rarely happens. Social workers can only remove a child from home with a court order, having demonstrated that there is serious and immediate risk. In emergency situations the Police have power to remove a child for 72 hours.
What to say
|Social Workers will get involved when they believe that physical injury, neglect, sexual or emotional abuse has occurred. Make sure you know what child abuse is - contact helplines in the Contacts column for more information.
||A social worker (and sometimes a police officer) will meet with the family when abuse is reported. They will also talk with other professionals in order to make decisions about how to help.
||If you are worried about your own or someone else's treatement of a child, seek advice about what practical and emotional support is available.
||It is important that children know what to do when they feel unsafe.
Do they know who to talk to and how to get to a safe place or person?
- Social Services Blaenau Gwent 01495 355794
- Gwent Police 01633 838111 (In an emergency 999)
- Family Rights Group (Advice Line) 0800 731 1696
- NSPCC Bi Lingual Service 0808 100 2524
- Parentline Plus 800 2222
- Your Health Visitor