Monthly Archives: July, 2013

Only one argument!

Sometimes in this job you have a week that is like no other you have experienced before and for me this is an important subtle reminder that you can never make any assumptions in social work.  It is also a gentle reminder that life is precious and should be treated with respect, and maybe I am growing softer with age – as this week I feel like I have been left with a hole in my heart.

Cases of domestic violence still remain very common in the work that we do, the impact this has on the children is incredibly damaging and in the worse case be life changing.  Especially, if the worse case scenario happens and one of the parents is killed by the other leaving the children without their parents and no understanding why or how this could happen.  Even at the lower end of domestic abuse the impact on the child\ren is still significant with often multiple home moves to avoid violent adults, school changes, emotional harm from hearing or witnessing Domestic abuse, learning behaviour that is not acceptable, physical harm.

Domestic violence is defined as

“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”

However, in order to support this Local Authorities hold a ‘MARAC’ (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference). Which is as it sounds a commitment of all the agency’s to create a risk assessment and plan to safeguard the most vulnerable women subjected to domestic violence.  A meeting that lists the horrors committed and left me truly speechless and concerned by the levels of domestic violence that still takes place on a very regular occurrence.

This article shows that the levels of domestic violence is falling and why are we not celebrating this news? because like me it questions whether as a society whether we have a grip of domestic violence, that many of the stereotypes still exists looking at the history of the victim to look at reasons why they may have been attacked or could be blamed for the attack.  Or more importantly because domestic violence is more commonly known that the victims involved keep quiet fearing that they will be punished for their abuse or denying the impact upon themselves.

It is positive to hear that prosecution rates are increasing and maybe because some areas are developing their multi agency approach to include opening special courts to ensure that protection is provided to the victim and alleged perpetrator.  Domestic violence is not just a local problem but a global problem and can affect any family at any time and only needs to happen once for the damage to be final and tragic.

So for me this week helping one family put their lives together after their loss has been a hard challenge, both emotionally as a parent but also making the assessment of risk and keeping the child at the centre of any plans.  Whilst also sensitively working with a family who are grieving at their loss, without wanting to intrude any more than necessary during an emotional time for everyone.

So if you need help and advice about Domestic violence visit the National Domestic Violence Helpline for information and guidance.

For me the issue of Domestic Violence needs to remain at the top of priorities for all professionals and should never be accepted or brushed under the carpet.  Although the numbers of prosecutions are rising so are the numbers of incidents with many never being reported or recorded.  With services being cut and housing issues rising, this further makes this situation difficult for many victims to report their concerns.  As professionals we need to continue to work together in a multi agency approach and listen to concerns raised during our assessments even if at a very low level of concern to protect from this escalating further.

 

Why do we struggle to understand?

Have you ever wondered who you are? Struggled to understand where you fit in life? Have you ever taken time out to try and understand who you are and how you fit into the world around you?! Knowing who we are is so important to our social identity and sense of belonging. In my own search to discover who I am, I have certainly had to search long and hard and still I find that I am continuing to wonder who I am and what makes me feel like I belong.

However, as we continue to discover and learn about the impact of social identity, so do the young people we work with. Except, in their search to discover their own identities, they are also faced with their parents/carers, who are not only confused but also struggling to understand their children as they change through adolescents and create and find these new identities.

So why is it then, that when it comes to understanding young people is it so difficult? Why is it as adults that we struggle to relate with the needs of young people to create an image they feel comfortable with? By failing to understand this need and managing it safely, young people continue to be vulnerable to those people who can recognise this and take advantage of how vulnerable young people are at this time – through sexual exploitation, gangs and criminal behaviour and substance misuse.

However, social work continues to engage the most needy of young people in exploring and understanding their behaviour and what makes this risky. With budgets cut and destroyed, a need for early intervention becomes so important. Therefore, understanding Identity becomes a key part of the process in ensuring that this is done effectively – especially where risk factors are increased with parental substance misuse, domestic violence,neglect and physical and sexual abuse. Significantly, with the cost of child care rising many parents are forced to take risks which impact upon their children’s development and, significantly, their identity.

For many young people, this means having to grow up too fast – wanting to achieve a sense of belonging, whilst also being willing to seek it anywhere. Yet often, adults – especially professionals – fail to explore how vulnerable children fit and feel within their families, leaving them at risk of breakdown and confusion and often, being unskilled in managing these feelings of loss can result in escaping through seeking out other young people with similar beliefs.

Therefore as social workers it is very important to understand identity, and beyond the obvious basic concepts of identity, i.e. ‘White British, Speaks English, does not practise any religion.’ This statement is certainly a missed opportunity in helping any vulnerable young person and preventing them from experiencing abuse, sexual exploitation or substance misuse or joining in gang and criminal activities.