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The wrong end of the telescope: child protection or child safety?

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This paper is intended to raise a number of questions and initiate debate in the field of child safety. The specific context for the discussion is the revision and reissuing of government guidance on 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' towards the end of 1999. The central concern is that too much time and effort continues to be invested in pursuing a limited case management approach in the field of child protection, which in turn is too narrowly defined. This, it is argued, is particularly evident in the role assigned to Area Child Protection Committees, which does not appear to have been redefined effectively to respond to the challenges set by the emerging government agenda. 'Working Together …' hints at a broader and more 'inclusive' approach to the protection of children, but it does not develop this line of thinking fully. By contrast, a more imaginative vision could be brought to bear on the key child safety concerns evident both from a range of sources of evidence and as expressed by children and young people themselves. The paper explores some of the limitations of current approaches to child protection and the overarching framework represented by the Area Child Protection Committees. Some consideration is given to alternative models of practice and opportunities to improve strategies and vision, in order to promote a greater emphasis on enhancing the safety of children rather than simply on managing risk.

Keywords: child protection; child safety; refocusing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Social Work, University of Leicester

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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