The following narrative highlights the impact of child protection and safeguarding policy on children and families and the repercussions of the same on the people working in or associated in children services. It demonstrates the impact of a particular area of social policy being looked after and acted upon by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the stakeholders (Wessells 2015). Bottom-up approaches to strengthening child protection systems: Placing children, families, and communities at the center. Child abuse & neglect, 43, pp.8-21.. It analyses the benefits, improvements and pitfalls of the area of child protection and safeguarding since 2010. It is a hypothetical discussion between hypothetical characters, Person A and Person B.
Person A: Over the past few decades, a very stringent area of social policy after both children and families all around the world and especially the developing countries is the area of child protection and safeguarding. The UNICEF is increasingly trying to promote social norms and standards of regulation that are aimed to better the living conditions of children and abolish exploitation and child abuse (Parton 2014). Policies are increasingly being expected to only cover the interests of children. However, policy should be about supporting practitioners, children and families to flourish. It should be noted here that policies should aim to build a world where flourishing and well being are related to each other and how the two in turn affect and influence the mental of families. Here the context of social protection and safeguarding becomes very important. Don’t you think?
Person B: Yes, any kind of social protection and safeguarding policy should potentially aim at benefitting children for the most part and should be of help to agencies involved in child protection also. However, the most important aspect of child protection involves the revision of the process involved in child adoption and spreading awareness about parenting techniques and counseling of parents with a history of child abuse or other mental issues. The referrals associated with the various child protection and adoption agencies should undergo proper investigation and screening and these processes should be revised regularly.
Person A: Yes, I feel that social protection and safeguarding should essentially also aim to reduce poverty and improve income levels of the families all over the world. National development, improvement of economic conditions of the families and in turn well being of the children depend on the protection and safeguarding policies undertaken by a nation and all of these aim at flourishing healthily. For example, there are child protection policies implemented in UK under the actions of the British Council that are evaluated every year and aim at bettering the lives of children through improved means of education and cultural relations.
Person B: Yes and similarly, the laws and regulations governing the punishment of individuals associated with crimes related to children should be made more stringent especially in the UK where the cases of child abuse have been rampant and more than most other areas of the world. To maintain the same the UNICEF has advocated discussions and promoted change in many countries around the world. But though the UNICEF is trying to increasingly reduce the violence meted out to children and improve the standard of living for the families are they being able to mitigate the risks associated with parenting and reduce child abuse? The country which takes care of its children is the one which can develop its future. The children are one of the major important assets to the society as they help in the development and the sustenance of the future of the society (Bradshaw and Main 2011).
Person A: Well, if we go through the articles published on the official site of UNICEF we can see that the organization is trying its very best to promote a healthier family environment and cater to the needs of both the families as well as the children in the various countries lying within the boundaries of UK. In fact, in a report published by UNICEF in 2010, it describes how it is planning to build child protection systems and organizations for catering to emergencies. However, even after all the systems in place and new policies are being framed to overcome the 2010 violence meted out to children, there are numerous cases of child abuse and violence reported every year.
Person B: Are you aware of NSPCC and their role in the maintenance and reporting as well as evaluation of cases which are reported based on child abuse and monitoring?
Person A: Yes, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which is the biggest child protection and charity organizations in UK publishes a chronological history of cases every year out of which there was one case which involved death of a twenty two month old child and her mother by the woman’s ex husband and this case is an example of mishandled protection. It has been reported that the mother had complained to the police in prior but the concerned authorities did not take any step to help the family through child protection and safeguarding organizations (Whittle et al. 2013). This led to the perilous activity by the father. It is important to mention here that there are several theories which are applicable to early childhood trauma based on which policies should increasingly be formulated and applied. Are you aware of such policies? The reason why I ask is that such theories play a major role in the upbringing of children and the mental health of parents, especially the ones with a disturbed history of childhood or adolescence.
Person B: Yes, of course there are several policies and acts that have been implemented in the UK since 2010. One of such acts was implemented in 2014 which is the Children and Families Act 2014. This act contained policies that introduced a number of reforms in child protection and safeguarding in England. According to the policies under this act, the approved fosters who want to adopt children can adopt on a trial basis till the court allows or permits them to adopt the children legally. This policy allows for aspiring parents to keep the children with them and protect and safeguard them for a period of about four months.
Person A: Are there any exceptions made for special cases reported to which they react or which they handle in a different way?
Person B: As far as I have researched and as far as I have gained insight on this matter, in certain cases, this period can further get extended by a matter of about eight weeks. There is also a part of this act that is in sync with a duty imposed on the local authorities of the inhabitants of England which came into effect from May 14th, 2014. This part of the act allows for the children to stay back with the foster families after the age of 18 years, at their own discretion. This is the concept of “staying put”. It is prescribed in part 5, Welfare of Children (98) of the Children and Families Act 2014. To promote the concept underlying this policy, the legislation and other local governing bodies are increasingly encouraging flow of funds to provide proper growth, education and overall upbringing of the children who are under the parental influence and guidance of fosters up to the age of 18 years. The government is also increasingly promoting activities and programs to educate and guide parents about the concept of “staying put”. This process was implemented to better the relation and mental health of both the children and the families involved. The same act also introduced another policy of screening foster carers which involve only one assessment procedure and also introduced a plan called the Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan. This planned policy has been in place since 2010 and provides support to families, children and young people up to the age of 25 years. It also caters to the specialized educational needs and requirements of children including higher studies. Don’t you think it is an effective policy? Do you also think that it has very important implications on the behavioral development of children?
Person A: The behavior of any individual and especially a child depends on the environment influence in the family that he/she is brought up in (Skinner 2015). It is important to know that there are there are two types of conditioning that influence children’s behavioral, which are conditioning and classical.
Person B: Could you explain these concepts of child psychology so that it can be connected to the issue under discussion?
Person A: Classical conditioning is meant to instigate behavioral pattern through natural process of neural pairing with previously occurring stimuli. However, classical conditioning is meant to instill and alter behavior of children by punishing them and exposing them to altering situations. On the other hand etiological theories state that patterns of child abuse and victimization of children are rampant because the parents subconsciously realize that the social costs of maltreatment are way greater than maltreatment of someone within the family and especially children. The other theory that is relevant to the issue of child abuse and child development is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory which states that the upbringing of children helps them to form bonds with the society as well as the environment in which he is being brought up. It states that there are many layers which train and have their own impacts on the psychology and personality of the child. Also, I have gone through the results that have followed the implementation of this policy and it can be asserted undoubtedly that it has been very effective.
Person B: Okay and how has this policy been implemented and what are the implications of the same policy?
Person A: According to Mengoni, Bardsley and Oates (2015), the concept of key working has been used for the implication of the policy you just mentioned. This concept involves reaching out to children and families and providing them enhanced educational support and catering to personalized needs. In fact, the government of England is increasing research and development in the context of key working and trying to evolve and improvise methods of assuring overall care of the families and children. In their report (Mengoni, Bardsley and Oates 2015) claim that this policy and its implementation through key working has instilled and incorporated better bonding between children and their fosters and also promoted better mental health. It has maximized the benefits accrued to children and families. The parents have reported that they have now gained increased access to information, services, products and programs that they were earlier unaware about. The organizations involved in the process of connecting families to children have also reported that they are increasingly being able to promote elements that are bonding the families with the children and are helping them to develop together and in a holistic way (Catania 2013). The Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory takes into account the different factors that affect the growth of the child in the society. The different layered factors affecting the social cultural and the cognitive development of the child is influenced by different aspects relating to the development of the mind and the psyche of the child. The development of the mind of the child is based on a number of environments around the child which helps in the development of the child in the society.
Person B: To what extent have these policies been useful?
Person A: The workers of child rights and protection in UK have reported that their relation with those families and the children has become strong and they feel connected to those individuals too. The practitioners and operating managers have also claimed that their service delivery has improved over the years and the experts and trainers have employed and shaped people into productive and more effective employees. The parents have also sometimes explained trainers and experts how their relation with the children has evolved as they grew up and what it is like to grow as a parent. Do you know of any other theories of children and policies that have been implemented to better the same?
Person B: Well, that is indeed very insightful and knowledge worth gaining. It is interesting to know how the workers involved with the process of child protection and safeguarding have also benefitted out of this act. There is this one act which was implemented in Scotland to better the situation of child protection and safeguarding and improve the experience and working conditions of the practitioners and authorities in place. This act was called the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act and was passed in 2014. This helped promoting a model that would the work of the people delivering child care and protection services easier, which is called the Getting it right for every child National Practice Model.
Person A: Could you explain what the model is all about?
Person B: Yes, of course, this model essentially helps agencies and organizations to plan out a routine framework and allocate resources accordingly so there is essentially no gap between planning and execution of the plans. It promotes timely solutions to problems faced by both children and youth of Scotland by strategically addressing the concerns they face. The model helps to collect data and carry out informed analysis and examination of the problems faced and helps the experts to discover patterns and trends and actively remove problems on a priority basis. This model enables the authorities to maintain consistency with the children and youth which in turn help in building a common platform. This allows for various agencies to connect and share ideas and access greater pools of information. Lev Vygotsky, a psychologist, had mentioned that individual understanding of the world depends upon the social process. Learning and growing in children and also the youth comes through interactions with people outside the comfort zone and gaining field experience (Poehner and Lantolf 2014).
Person A: Is the concept of Proximal Development important in this context and how does it relate to the act and its policies under discussion?
Person B: Yes, Proximal development is very important for development of capabilities in children and youth as it tends to reduce the gap between what a child can do on his/her own and what the same child does with assistance from elders. Being a part of the National Practice Model, this act will help reduce this gap through workshops and seminars. The only priority of the act is to provide enhanced services and keep the children and youth at the centre of planning and execution. It caters to the rights being taken care of especially in the public sector.
Person A: Is there a relation that can be formed and established in between the policy under discussion and the theories?
Person B: Policy is about providing support to children and families along with the practitioners who extend services of protection and safeguarding, then we can clearly map the policies and their implications stated above with the concept of flourishing discussed. In the book it has been mentioned that happiness and memories associated with value driven learning cause relations and bonds to deepen and strengthen over time and improves the capacities of the nervous system and the brain. This in turn helps them to respond aptly and helps improve their reflex system. Do you agree with the fact that flourishing is concerned with only happiness and improving the psychology of children and families?
Person A: To look into the matter of flourishing being related to policies, looking at this concept from only the angle of nervous development of children and their psychology is not enough. This itself is represented in the very same book. It is mentioned that the role of adults is very important as they are experienced through the stages of development that a child goes through. They are the ones who should provide varied opportunities and experiences through which the child is meant to learn, develop and flourish.
Person B: In this context, do you think that the upbringing of the children is majorly shaped by the teachers and the education provided and should also be discussed and monitored?
Person A: Yes, it is also important to note here that the role of education and teachers are very important. Teaching has and learning has various implications and these are very intense. Discipline and conduct are values that are inculcated in students in school from a very young age. The child knowing what he/she wants to grow and become as individuals out of what they are now is vital for them to choose a path. Having a social life and responding to observations also helps in holistic development of a child. So one could say that there are many aspects of policy that govern the flourishing of children, their families and people working in organizations that promote practices of child protection and safeguarding. Don’t you think that analysis of this social issue is also important with respect to safeguarding of information and reaching apt information to the children and fosters under consideration on time?
Person B: Yeah, that is another absolutely important aspect of protection. It is very vital for organizations involved with protection and safeguarding of children to ensure that relevant information reaches to the concerned authorities on time. If this is not strictly followed, welfare is encroached upon and several cases have been reported to be caused because of lack of timely sharing of information. The rules regarding sharing of information are also very stringent and such data should always be handled with care. The sharing of such information also depends upon the legal implications of the same. Without the permission or allowance of information sharing by court order, sharing of such sensitive information is generally considered punishable. Also, information should immediately be shared at the very onset or emergence of problems or issues. Consent is also very important on behalf of the families in the case of information sharing. Schools are not supposed to keep any information except records of parental professions and the academics of the student. Thus, for authorities and organizations who handle the communication of fosters and children it is vital to consider data sharing norms while making action plans or building decisions about extending support to children. Do you think that this area of social policy implication is very vital for the years to come and should be enhanced even more?
Person A: Yes, I think this is an issue that will always remain important and vulnerable for the years to come both for children as well as families. I also think that it is important for governments and organizations of not only UK but all over the world to adopt policies and technologies that will enhance the services provided and help in efficient mapping of referrals to children (Thompson 2015). In fact, the youth who have grown up under the guidance of fosters and has received help from organizations that are involved with providing assistance and help, should help build and enhance the regulations already in place. Hence, they should increasingly take place in public speaking and non-profit organizations and promote better quality of life for the upcoming generation. With increased risk taking capabilities and better channels of communication and regulation in place, we should be able to formulate policies that look after the well being of the stakeholders of this issue and the society in general. In fact, from our very conversation it is clear that this social issue needs to be analyzed and acted upon regularly. This will only make the world a better place for the children to live in and build them into socially and mentally fit individuals.
Bradshaw, J. and Main, G., 2011. Child poverty and deprivation. The well-being of children in the UK, 3, pp.27-52.
Catania, A.C., 2013. A natural science of behavior. Review of General Psychology, 17(2), p.133.
Gourd, J. and Kingdon, Z., 2016. The conceptualisation of ?ourishing. In Flourishing in the Early Years (pp. 19-35). Routledge.
Mengoni, S., Bardsley, J. and Oates, J., 2015. An evaluation of key working for families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. British Journal of Special Education, 42(4), pp.355-373.
Parton, N., 2014. The politics of child protection: Contemporary developments and future directions. Palgrave Macmillan.
Poehner, M.E. and Lantolf, J.P., 2014. Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative in L2 education: Vygotskian praxis and the research/practice divide. Routledge.
Skinner, B.F., 2015. Cumulative record: Definitive edition (Vol. 4). BF Skinner Foundation.
Wessells, M.G., 2015. Bottom-up approaches to strengthening child protection systems: Placing children, families, and communities at the center. Child abuse & neglect, 43, pp.8-21.
Whittle, H., Hamilton-Giachritsis, C., Beech, A. and Collings, G., 2013. A review of online grooming: Characteristics and concerns. Aggression and violent behavior, 18(1), pp.62-70.
Thompson, R.A., 2015. Social support and child protection: Lessons learned and learning. Child Abuse & Neglect, 41, pp.19-29.