Real participation and inclusive practice
Children and young people can feel that child protection processes are being ‘done’ to them and not done with them. So where are the children’s voices in child protection processes? It is important that practice changes to really hear children and young people’s voices in child protection processes. Some useful guidance on children’s participation can be found here.
We talk about child participation and how important it is, yet we keep falling into the same trap when we work with children in that we don’t make efforts to get their voice and their views. This is especially evident for child protection conferences where young people rarely attend, and rarely have their views represented. My recent experiences in the child protection conference arena confirm this position.
Mind Of My Own as a fundamental part of child protection conferences
But it doesn’t have to be like this, as a Child Protection Chair I routinely now ask for a Mind Of My Own statement to be completed with the young people prior to the next conference, so that their views can be tabled alongside all the other reports at conference.
I ask for the person whom the child relates best to sit down and do that Mind Of My Own statement with them. I am now beginning to see those Mind Of My Own statements making it clear what a young person thinks about their lives, what’s important to them and what we need to take into account of when we are risk management planning.
Children holding the key to risk assessment
Children and young people are in a very good position to provide vital information about their own safety and issues featuring in their lives. Anytime we overlook these we are missing a trick as well as the point.
Recently I heard about a conference where an eight year old girl’s views were presented through a Mind Of My Own statement and she alerted the professionals to the fact her mother was using drugs. This was something the professionals involved in the conference were totally unaware of and were shocked that this important fact was coming to light for the first time.
Mind Of My Own brings an opportunity in safeguarding
In my opinion, Mind Of My Own is the best opportunity we have to get young people’s voices heard and the child protection arena is one of the most important areas of our practice to get this right.
Children and young people can tell us how it is, all we have to do is ask and facilitate them to have a voice using Mind Of My Own. Simple.
Sharon Graham – Conference Chair