Independent Social Workers have a role to play in educating children about domestic violence

Posted on November 27th, 2009

The Guardian newspaper reports that in the next 18 months Government ministers are considering compulsory lessons for children from five to fifteen on preventing violence in relationships.  This follows research by the children’s charity NSPCC finding that a quarter of teenage girls suffer physical violence such as being slapped, punched or beaten by their boyfriend. This is a concerning fact for Avocet Independent Social Workers who work with teenage couples with young children, assessing their parenting capacity within the Court arena.

The Government plans to introduce compulsory lessons on preventing violence in relationships into the classroom due to learning that only half of young women and girls receive such lessons as part of their personal, social, health and economic studies. The question of who will teach these lessons and how they will be taught has not been clarified by the Government.  Would these lessons be taught by teachers or is it a role for Independent Social Workers?  A professionally trained Independent Social Worker with experience of working with children and families who have witnessed domestic violence could assist children to understand the impact of violence on their lives.  Independent Social Workers will be able to interact with a child or adult who discloses incidents of domestic violence in a sensitive manner with knowledge of safeguarding procedures.

Compulsory lessons on preventing domestic violence could lead to an increase in Child Protection referrals to Local Authorities similar to the increase in reported of incidents of child abuse following the death of Baby Peter.   Local Authorities may struggle to cope with the demands of completing more Initial Assessments and Core Assessments at a time when there is a recognised national shortage of Child Protection Social Workers. The solution to this problem could be Independent Social Workers supplied by agencies such as Avocet to complete one off pieces of Social Work.

The cross-Government strategy is to be underpinned by an advertising campaign early next year aimed at tackling the attitude among some teenagers that violence in relationships is justified. The campaign will be aimed at ensuring young girls (and boys) realise they do not have to tolerate any form of violence or controlling behaviour within their relationships.

Independent Social Workers have a role in the education programme by raising the awareness of domestic violence, allowing the children we assess the opportunity to talk about violence in their relationships and emphasising how young people should be treated with respect in their relationships.  By tackling these issues we may see a reduction in the amount of incidents of domestic violence within children’s lives.

Avocet would welcome working with other Independent Social Workers particularly in London, Kent, Sussex and other parts of the UK. Join our Agency and practice with professionals who are child focused and wish to improve the lives of children.

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