Safeguarding Children

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There are four main models of abuse:

The medical model

The sociological model

The psychological model

The feminist model

(Green, 2007, p251) describes the models of abuse as follows:

The medical model – this model sees the abuse as an illness or a disease needing a cure. In some cases there is the potential for a cycle of abuse; the abuser parent’s ability to parent appropriately may have been affected by poor attachments with the main carers in their lives, and this may then be repeated with their own children.

The attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby in 1971. His theory suggests that if a mother and her child have a significant separation in the first five years of the child’s life it could lead to physical and social difficulties. Separation can cause the child to feel neglected, they may become aggressive and could lead to them neglecting their own child when they are older, making their child feel how they felt.

In the 1970s, Mary Ainsworth expanded on Bowlby’s theory and identified three main styles of attachment; secure, ambivalent-insecure, and avoidant- insecure attachment.

This theory isn’t very effective in helping to identify child abuse - not every child who has grown up without a mother has turned out to be aggressive or feel neglected. Also, this model does not explain sexual abuse

Kempe, an American paediatrician stated that there are four main signs which may help to predict abuse:

1 – there is a parent with the potential for abuse (not parented well themselves or were victims of abuse) 2 – the child displays behaviour which the parent is unwilling to deal with 3 – there is a stressful incident which serves as a trigger 4 – the family live in a culture where discipline/corporal punishment is encouraged

The sociological model – this model links abuse to the social environment, and includes poverty, unemployment and the make up of the family.

The Social Structural Theory was introduced by Gil in 1970. His theory states that child abuse is class related, with mainly lower class children suffering from child abuse. His theory suggested that parents feel pressured and strained due to being in poverty, and take their anger and frustration out on the child. In 1975 and 1978 he developed his theory, blaming the government for causing child abuse due to lack of sufficient facilities. Gil’s theory was supported by Parton in 1985.

This theory is not effective because not all children in poverty are abused - although physical child abuse is closely associated with deprivation, emotional abuse and child sex abuse is not usually linked with class and poverty.

The psychological model – this links abuse to the abuser’s previous experiences, including role models, bonding with parents and the abuser’s upbringing. This model also acknowledges that ability to understand the care needs of a child may also be a reason for abuse.

The Individual Interactions Perspectives and Child Abuse theory was written by Minuchin in 1974, his theory was defended by Wolfe in 1985. Minuchin’s theory states that if parents don’t know how to look after their children they will abuse them; the child is also affected by the parent’s relationship. If parents don’t understand how to look after a child, they become stressed and unfairly blame the child, for example for their lack of money.

This theory is very effective because it shows that both couples and/or single parents who have a child and who do not know how to look after them properly may abuse the child. Even if the parents aren’t intentionally abusing the child, they are still neglecting the child by not giving them the basic needs, for example what types of foods to feed the child, how to keep...
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