The deaths of children at the hands of their parents and carers in recent years have often made headlines. Examples include Victoria Climbie, Peter Connelly (Baby P), Daniel Pelka and, most recently, Liam Fee. Social work is often castigated as a failing profession and is continually accused of failing to intervene appropriately when child abuse is suspected or identified. The public and politicians target, blame and scapegoat individual social workers, managers and directors of children’s services. Research shows how difficult it is to identify signs of abuse at the time rather than with hindsight. The defensiveness of organisations may contribute to the failure of social work professionals to react correctly. Nevertheless, child protection in the UK, as measured by the relatively low levels of child abuse deaths, compares favourably with other countries in Europe.
The Centre for Social Work Research presents a seminar on this issue of great concern, in which Dr Andrew Whittaker, Dr Anna Gupta and Dr Sharon Shoesmith will discuss the differences between theory and practice and will consider what gets in the way of effective decision making in child protection work, and how we can make better decisions in these cases.
After the seminar, there will be the book launch of Learning from Baby P. Sharon Shoesmith will introduce the book and read excerpts from it.