Safeguarding Babies and Very Young Children from Abuse and Neglect:by Harriet Ward;Rebecca Brown;David Westlake

This is a book which is intended to be used as a reference in the first instance.
Fifty-seven babies were selected as a sample study across ten local authorities to track their progress and outcomes, in some cases for over three years.

The children sampled coincidentally were all born in the same year as Peter Connelly (Baby P), a child who died whilst in the care of his mother and her boyfriend – a man who had been convicted of the rape of a two-year old. Peter was the latest in too long a line of children and babies who are not protected or safeguarded by those who belong the their birth family or those who are paid to protect them. The book is hard-hitting yet accurate. It details the pitfalls and restrictions as well as the inaccuracies of reporting and recording by professionals and sharing information across supporting disciplines.

Each chapter looks at aspects of these children:

– chapter two looks at the individual children and some of their common characteristics;
– chapter three looks at the parents of the children;
– chapter four unpicks decision making;
– chapter five follows the children over three years;
– chapter six identifies those children who were removed for safeguarding and those who remained at home at risk and looks at how some parents can overcome their own problems and become real parents whilst others fail.

The three chapters that I found most edifying were chapters seven, eight and nine. In these final chapters, the authors look at how decisions are made, bearing in mind the minefield of parental rights and empowerment as well as parental understanding of the decisions made by the professionals, The final chapter concludes with outcomes achieved by the study and what lessons these can offer.

Any book that identifies weaknesses in the safeguarding of babies and young children must be essential for any professional team. This is not easy to read but I do appreciate the statistics. It is the first time I have seen ethnicity and race identified in a study. When I carried out research for my book on sexual abuse of black children, there were no statistics I could use to identify the frequency of abuse in different ethnic and racial groups. The study looks at this without drawing any conclusions based on bias or prejudice.

This is a book worth buying.

Ward, Harriet, Brown, Rebecca, and Westlake, David Safeguarding Babies and Very Young Children from Abuse and Neglect
Jessica Kingsley Publishing
ISBN: 9781849052375

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