Safeguarding Young People: Responding to young people 11 to 17 who are maltreated Rees, G., Gorin, S., Jobe, A., Stein, M. Medford, R. and Goswami, H. 2010 The Children's Society, London
AbstractThis research urges a new approach to child protection for older children in order to ensure their safety. Safeguarding Young People found that the needs of 11-17 year olds were not always met by child protection processes, which are more geared to protecting younger children. The study found that a lack of resources in Children's Social Care Services can negatively affect older children, whereas younger children in similar circumstances may be prioritised.
The study found that:
** Young people found a huge difficulty in disclosing maltreatment:
* they struggle to strike up trusting relationships with a consistent professional (social workers are often overworked and a young person's social worker can often change)
* they are acutely aware of the potential ramifications for themselves and their family of disclosing abuse
* they did not always have sufficient knowledge or information on how best to make the disclosure
* there is a lack of services for young people over 14 which may deter professionals (such as teachers and police) from making referrals.
** There is a problem with some professionals' perceptions of the abilities of older children. It found that they were often seen as more competent to deal with maltreatment than younger children, including being able to escape abusive situations and seek help, as well as being perceived by some professionals as more 'resilient' - i.e. more able to cope with experiences of maltreatment.
These perceptions are not supported by research evidence on this topic. It is important that the evidence on this issue is more effectively given to practitioners and commissioners. The implications for training, practice and service provision must be fully considered.