It may be argued that the notion of child abuse is socially constructed, in other words the definition changes over time and it may even be different from one culture/country to the next, it is ‘a product of a particular culture and context and not an absolutely unchanging phenomenon’ (Corby, 1993, p.39). For example, in the UK in the 1980’s there were four types of abuse, in 1988 there were five and in 1991 they were back to four. For example, work into child protection emerged in the 1960’s and so if this was the case Corby (1993) asks if child abuse did not exist before this or was it undiscovered? Corby (1993) speaks of ‘a conspiracy of silence’ as the NSPCC were reluctant to highlight cases of sexual abuse in the same manner as neglect or physical abuse and this was the typical reaction at the time of choosing ignorance. Similarly sexual abuse was not ‘discovered’ until the 1980’s The notion of childhood is also a definition that can change over time. De Mause (1976 cited in Corby, 1993) argues that childhood is a recent phenomenon and therefore they were previously offered little protection and so were susceptible to abuse.
One particularly difficult aspect of child protection is critically balancing between our professional and personal values and managing these beliefs as Beckett states ‘the belief that children should be protected against harm and the belief that outsiders should not .....????(Becket, 2003, p.43) Beckett argues that social workers can sometimes feel that what they are doing is wrong e.g. Removing a newborn baby from its mother as going ‘against the laws of nature’ (Corner, 1975, cited in Beckett, 2003, p.44) however, it may be that one needs to overcome their personal feelings once they are weighed against the potential harm that a child may suffer. Professionals involved should also be sensitive about protecting Serena whilst at the same time maintaining the family’s privacy.
It is also important to note that ‘child care practices must be viewed from the perspectives of both insiders and outsiders to the culture in question’ (Wilson and James, 2007, p.136). The professionals dealing with Serena and Phyllis need to be culturally sensitive and aware and realise that what constitutes as good parenting differs between cultures. For example, in Japan it is normal for two generations to sleep in the same room which continues until adulthood (Claudhill and Platt, 1966, cited in Wilson and James, 2007) which is not practiced in most Western countries. As Edgerton states (1992, cited in Wilson and James, 2007) just because something is done with good intentions, that does not make it acceptable. Phyllis may argue that she is just speaking to Serena how her mother used to speak to her and this may be a cultural thing, again this does not make it acceptable.
This is a child need as this is defined under S17(10) (Great Britain. The Children Act 1989) as a child whom without the help of their local authority would not be able to fulfill or maintain an adequate level of health or development or would have their health and or development impaired. She and her family will need family support services who can safeguard her welfare and assist her parents in raising her. However, an important factor is that for some children, the family is the most important place for them to be bought up and that parental responsibility should lie with the parents. Appropriate intervention is needed in order to improve the life chances of a child and in order to do this one needs to understand as much as possible about the family and the sooner the identification of factors which may hinder her development or health are identified the sooner that preventative measures can be taken.
The local authority has a duty in relation to her safeguarding by identifying and arranging a variety of services that are relevant to her needs.
One such service that her local authority should provide is day care which...
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