Whose Voice? Children and Young People's Participation in the Child Protection Conference

Ogle, Justine (2018) Whose Voice? Children and Young People's Participation in the Child Protection Conference. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

The rights of children and young people to express their views in matters that affect them when they are subject to statutory child protection interventions are enshrined in global and domestic legal frameworks. However, the most recent review of the English child protection system commented on a number of system failures that has resulted in a loss of focus on the child or young person in child protection assessment and decision making practices (Munro,2011b).

The aim of this thesis, to explore the participation of children and young people in their child protection conference; originated from recommendations from Munro’s review, which called for more child-centred approaches in child protection practice. The thesis is a qualitative, mixed methods case study, and draws on phenomenological and post-structural methodologies to explore the nature of children and young people’s participation in person, as well as through the representation of others in Moor Town, a local authority in the north of England. The thesis is influenced by Foucault’s concept of genealogy , and locates the evolution of participation in a microcosm of child protection practice at fixed points in child welfare law, policy and practice.

The study found that children and young people did not routinely attend child protection conferences in person. Young people who did attend did so as an exercise of their rights, and identified the importance of preparation for participating in ways that were meaningful for them. Attendance had a cathartic effect, and contributed to the development of life skills. However, the findings suggest that social workers exercised power and autonomy to exclude children and young people on the grounds of age and maturity, and because they perceived the emotional impact of being physically present in a confrontational adult environment not to be in the best interests of the child or young person. There was limited evidence to suggest that more strength based approaches for assessing and responding to risk had promoted participatory rights in social work practice. When children and young people did not attend in person, their views, wishes and feelings were generally mediated, and subjected to professional filtering and interpretation, and there was an over - reliance on the use of direct work tools associated with strength based approaches.

The findings from this study contribute to an existing knowledge base which suggests that individual, agency and societal assumptions over childhood serve to uphold protection rights over participatory rights in child protection assessment and decision making forums.

The thesis draws on recommendations made by young people to propose a number qualifying and post qualifying practice recommendations for developing more child –directed child protection conference environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: children’s rights, critical social work practice, child welfare law, policy and practice
Subjects: L500 Social Work
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2019 10:10
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2019 08:31
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39769

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