Review of the position of and provision for children in English refuges
This study investigated work with children in refuges for women and children experiencing domestic violence. The study also explores the effects on children of experiencing and witnessing such violence. A multi-methodological approach was adopted involving archive research, a literature review, a detailed telephone survey of all refuge groups and nine in-depth refuge case studies. Details are provided in relation to:
- the history of work with children within Women's Aid;
- childwork in refuges in England - the overall picture;
- in-depth case studies of refuges, viewed from a child-centred and child work perspective;
- children's views of refuge life.
Main Findings from the Telephone Survey:
- The total number of children housed in a single year by 141 refuge groups was 20,284, an average of 145 per group.
- The mix of children in refuges in terms of age, ethnicity and disability is unpredictable, with considerable implications for the provision of services to/for children.
- At the time of the study almost a third of refuge groups had no designated workers for children, which was due, in the vast majority of cases, to lack of resources.
- The majority of funding for work with children comes from insecure funding sources, and a considerable proportion relies upon allocation of general revenue and/or donations.
- Structured work forms an increasing element of work with children in refuges, especially in WAFE affiliated groups, but this requires resourcing at levels above that which most groups have access to.
- The part-time and sessional basis on which most child work is undertaken militates against children's workers being able to participate in training and group meetings, and against their ability to act as advocates for children's interests in refuges.
- Less than 50% of groups have a child protection policy, and an even lower percentage have a written policy which is followed through by regular discussion/information sessions.
- A substantial minority of refuges continue to have difficulty in finding school places for children - refuges are often unable to get children into local schools, with implications for children's safety.
- The needs of all children for space to play, and of older children for private and quiet space needs to be borne in mind in the design/choice of buildings for refuges - the benefits to children of not sharing rooms should inform local and national policy on refuge provision.
See Research Report: Children, Domestic Violence and Refuges: A Study of Needs and Responses
Review of inter-agency communication in child protection cases
This internal project explored the ways in which workers from various agencies such as the social services, police and schools communicate with each other in their work on child protection cases. It also examined the manner in which Child Protection Plans are designed and whether or not they are adhered to. By tracking a small number of child protection cases in four neighbourhood offices, researchers considered the level of communication between all agencies involved, attendance of agency workers at Child Protection Conferences and any progress that is made between these Conferences. It was found that many of the barriers to effective links and joint working were practical - such as not being able to contact relevant individuals because of engaged telephones or work commitments. The report sets out a number of recommendations as to how current practice might be improved.
Internal Report: Information Exchange, Communication or Joint Working: A Review of the Effectiveness of Inter-Agency Communication in Child Protection Cases
What is known about child sexual exploitation in the UK
This document arose out of the work of the European Forum for Child Welfare, drawing on papers and discussions from two European conferences on Child Pornography and Sexual Exploitation held in London and Brussels in 1995. The report:
- summarises what is currently known about the sexual exploitation of children;
- documents responses to sexual exploitation in terms of legislation, policy and practice;
- explores the interconnectedness of pornography, prostitution and trafficking;
- examines the routes in and out of, and the impacts of, sexual exploitation;
- highlights gaps in knowledge and in the policy framework;
- places all of the above in a children's rights and child protection context;
- focuses on Britain, whilst also taking account of both the European and global contexts.
- Whilst a basis for action on this issue exists in international law and convention, the current situation is that most national and regional governments have failed to make children's rights and quality of life a priority - this failure continues to provide a social legitimation for violations of children's rights, including explicit forms of abuse and violence.
- The sex industry relies upon and trades in all forms of inequality; children's particular powerlessness (in that they have more limited legal and practical options than adults), and in various contexts their individual survival needs, make them a unique target both for consumers and producers.
- Further debate and exploration of definitions surrounding the sexual exploitation of children is urgently needed, since they form the conceptual framework within which legislation, policy, data collection and research are located.
- Children's involvement in sexual exploitation creates shame, humiliation and powerlessness - for many the knowledge that a permanent visual record exists of their abuse in the form of pornography is an impossibly painful burden.
- In terms of ensuring their own physical survival, there are important differences in the contexts of children and young people globally, and hence in the factors which account for their being drawn into sexual exploitation, and the conditions which would provide them with an effective and sustainable route out.
- Most national and international responses to the sexual exploitation of children have focused on a legislative framework which enables prosecution of producers, procurers and traffickers, with the assistance element to children and young people being left primarily to the voluntary sector and charities.
- There are two central problems which currently hinder the development of a child protection and child welfare framework on sexual exploitation: firstly the over-emphasis of child protection work on abuse in a familial context and secondly the fact that most police work is located within 'vice' sections or crime desks and referrals are seldom made to child protection sections of the police, let alone other agencies.