Child abuse: Don’t fear to speak up
Wednesday 28th August 2013, 6:00AM BST.
Teachers and GPs must not be afraid to call in child protection services if they have fears for their welfare, the country’s top social worker has said.
Annie Hudson, the first chief executive of the new College of Social Work, said the “universal services” were missing signs of abuse and neglect in children.
While both paediatricians and police child protection officers are swift to take action to protect vulnerable youngsters, teachers and GPs must do more, Ms Hudson said.
Calling for better communication between the various agencies that look after children, she told The Times: “It’s not necessarily a case of conflict between the professions.
“It is more differences in opinion about what constitutes high risk; that teachers and GPs think the threshold has not been met for social workers to be involved.
“It can be the same with police involved in domestic violence or drug and alcohol misuse, and making a call on when serious action needs to be taken.”
She added: “(Social workers) are easy to scapegoat, when the role of other agencies is equally crucial.”
The College of Social Work was set up to raise professional standards in the sector and give a voice to social workers in England.
The role of social workers in the case of Daniel Pelka, the four-year-old boy from Coventry who was murdered by his mother and her boyfriend after being starved, imprisoned and subjected to physical violence, will be put under the spotlight in a forthcoming review of the case, which will examine which services had contact with him before his death, The Times said.
Ms Hudson will examine the role of social workers in the case, and the communication between teachers, doctors and police.
She said: “I will be looking to see the quality of the assessment and evaluations that were made. Were they robust, and more importantly was anyone standing back, looking at the history of this family and asking, ‘What is life really like for this child?’.”