This assignment aims todiscuss whether social workers are looking deep enough into cases and if theyare asking enough questions. The assignment will analyse why in the past fewdecades, there has been countless incidents of child abuse that have been reportedto social workers, but have still ended in the deaths of these children. Thisassignment will do so by examining real life cases and looking at how socialworkers have failed to recognise that the children were in danger and at riskof severe harm. The media often reports oncases that social workers have been involved in.
However, the media focusesheavily on the times where social workers have not acted appropriately or havefailed to recognise that a person is at risk, rather than looking at the positiveeffect and influence social workers have had on most people they have workedwith. In spite of this, it is clear that there have been a large quantity ofcases where social workers have failed to recognise that a child was at risk ofsignificant harm. In light of this, social workers have been widely criticisedas details released about these cases have showed that social workers have hadto investigate incidents where these children have been injured on severaloccasions and did not make any attempt to remove the children from their homeand into foster care which would have been a safer environment for thechildren.
An example of one of these cases isthe murder of Victoria Climbié. Victoria Climbié was eight years old when shewas murdered by her aunt Marie Therese Kouaoand her aunt’s partner Carl Manning. According to The Telegraph (2001), Victoria was left in a bathtub, herhands were tied with masking tape and she was left for hours without food or water.Later on, Carl Manning would beat her with items such as a coat hanger or ahammer.
According to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry (2003), housing authorities, socialservices departments, child protection teams and NSPCC centre were involved in Victoria Climbié’scase and looked into the incidents. It was also reported that Victoria wasadmitted to two different hospitals because of suspected deliberate harm. TheVictoria Climbié inquiry also pointed out that there was twelve occasions wherethe services could have intervened. This suggests that there was huge failingsby social workers in dealing with this case. The social workers involved shouldhave looked in more depth at the incidents and injuries Victoria attainedleading up to her depth and should have asked Carl Manning and Marie Therese Kouao more questions about Victoria’sinjuries and how she got them.
A key teaching point in the professional socialwork degree is that if a social worker is curious about a case and believesthat they have not received the full story, they should act on it and lookdeeper into the case. There must have been social workers who suspected thatVictoria Climbié was suffering abuse at the hands of her aunt and Carl Manning.Simply sharing their concerns with their manager could have changed the outcomeof this event and could have led to Victoria being removed from her home andbeing put into foster care, where she would have been safe. Unfortunately, Victoria Climbié is not an exception or a rarecase. Just six years later, another case of child abuse was brought to light.
Peter Connolly was 17 months old when he was murdered by his mother Tracey, herboyfriend Steven and his brother Jason. According to a serious case reviewcarried out by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board in Haringey (2009), PeterConnolly’s name had been on the child protection register under the category ofphysical abuse since December 2006. Social workers failed to look further intoPeter’s injuries and took them at face value by believing the excuses andreasons Peter’s mother told them.
It could be said that Victoria Climbié and Peter Connolly arerare cases that are committed by a few evil, disturbed individuals. However,cases of child abuse and deaths caused by child abuse are something that we arehearing more about every day in the media. It has become a widespread issue andit is impossible to know the exact number of children who are suffering fromchild abuse.
Reasons for this could be that child abuse is usually kept privateand children may not speak out about it because they feel scared and ashamed.According to the NSPCC (2016), over 58,000 children were identified as being inneed of protection. This shows that social workers need more training to beable to identify and spot signs of child abuse and need to be aware of how toeffectively intervene, so that they can keep the children safe. However, it could be argued that it is unfair and unjustly toblame social workers alone. In both the Victoria Climbié and Peter Connollycases, there were many services involved that led an investigation into theirinjuries. These services included doctors, nurses, housing authorities andchild protection services.
This shows that it was not just socialworkers who failed to spot the signs but these other services as well. Overall, the informationabove shows that not just social workers but other services such as doctors andchild protection services need to undertake training on how to spot the signsof child abuse and need to learn how to better communicate with otherprofessionals.