X-ray Usage on Asylum Seeking Children

Posted on April 27th, 2012

The use of X-rays has been suggested as an unnecessary intrusion and could be potentially harmful for anyone subject to it.  Dental X-rays could expose the young people seeking asylum to ionising radiation with no benefit found from actually conducting the examination.  Also the potential screening costs that could be incurred could be significantly higher than that of an assessment by a professional Social Worker for example.  The practice has also been subject to dispute as to whether it provides a more exact evaluation of age than a social care professional can.  The chief operating officer of the Refugee Council, Deborah Harris, said that, “The fact that numerous professional bodies have previously stated that this is not a sound method leaves us very concerned for vulnerable children caught in the process”.

The approach that Avocet Independent Social Workers take when conducting an age assessment is to create a lineage of experience of the young person and do an in-depth evaluation from there.  This process also includes consideration of a dental examination.   How different is this to the dental X-ray proposal?  Firstly, it doesn’t give exposure to the potential radiation effects of the X-ray but also it is used alongside the other assessment techniques as the medical examinations, as indicated above do not necessarily give a more accurate result.  The evaluation conducted by Social Workers will not necessarily be directly challenging the claim of age as an X-ray might be seen to but rather looking to determine the experience of the young person as well as looking at whether this experience appears to concur with the claims that have been previously made.  This approach like other services provided by Avocet looks to put the needs of the young person as the primary concern even in situations of contention.

Although claims of age of asylum seekers have to be acted upon, the use of dental X-rays may be an invasive means of doing so in comparison to an assessment by an Avocet Independent Social Worker for example.  The X-ray approach has not been deemed as a more exact means of evaluating age and therefore may be more problematic than it is worth.

Guest blogger this week – CM

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One Child Sexually Abused Every 20 Minutes

Posted on April 12th, 2012

The release of figures in April 2012 from the NSPCC, that a child is sexually abused every 20 minutes, really puts the picture together on sexual abuse; that it occurring more commonly than most people expect.  Avocet Independent Social Workers work with cases of sexual abuse and look to put the needs of the child first.  However in order to provide support, the problem of sexual abuse is  particularly challenging because of the private nature of offences as well as limited numbers of offences actually being reported.

With 60 cases of sexual abuse being reported per day, it is clear that there is a significant problem; Jon Brown, the head of the NSPCC’s sexual abuse programme himself said, When you have a situation where more than 60 children are being sexually abused every day, something is very wrong”.  Dealing with this however, is where the real problem arises. The fact that most child sexual abuse occurs in a setting that is not visible for witnesses, makes reporting problematic as manipulations such as fear due to threats may prevent the victim themselves from reporting the abuse.

Initiatives such as the new NSPCC “Don’t wait until you’re certain” campaign aim to make people more aware that if they suspect abuse there is someone to talk to.  By increasing levels of reporting, it allows for authorities to become involved in trying to help the child in a potentially threatening situation.  It is the problem of reporting that may be leaving children in situations where they are subject to sexual abuse.  Awareness of the signs of abuse and getting in contact with authorities, the general public can help to assist in getting children out of circumstances of abuse.  Over 23,000 offences of sexual abuse to children were reported last year but how many were not?

New government policy such as Sarah’s Law, implemented in 2011, has helped to raise awareness of sex offenders with some success in its first year. This has allowed for a proactive step to be taken in preventing child sexual abuse; by giving people access to whether their new partner for example, has previous sexual convictions can help to prevent re-offending and further victims of abuse. This proactive approach is beneficial to preventing abuse before it occurs. Services such as Avocet work to help those who have been subject to abuse as well as preventing circumstances where further abuse could occur.

The aim that all the Social Workers at Avocet have is to put the needs of the child as the priority; by ensuring that they are in a situation that is safe for them and that they will not be subject to abuse. It is down to the reporting of cases that allows Avocet to work for the needs of the child. Hopefully the release of these statistics from the NSPCC will help to make people more aware of the occurrence of abuse and thusly more likely to report it.

This month’s blogger – CM.

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The Impact of TV on Young People

Posted on April 12th, 2012

Avocet Independent Social Workers look to put the needs of the child as the priority; by ensuring the suitability of the environment in which they live (amongst various other things).  For some time there have been proposed links that the material children are subject to on the television could have an impact on their behaviour.  Instances such as the murder of James Bulger in 1993 or the Columbine shootings in America in 1999 have had attributive links to negative media imaging.  More recently, Daniel Bartlam, aged 14, was convicted of murdering his mother using similar means to that seen in a plot of Coronation Street.  So what is the impact that exposure to violent television has on our children?

Daniel Bartlam appears to have had a significant influence from what was shown in the popular soap Corrie.   What is most striking about the incident is the degree to which the boy was able to not only murder his mother, but also how he attempted to alleviate the blame from himself; Bartlam set fire to the body and told the police that a burglar had killed his mother. The depth of planning that appeared to have gone into the incident does not fit the mould of a typical 14 year olds behaviour.

The solution appears easy; don’t let children watch programmes containing violent scenes.  But even programmes designed for children, take Tom and Jerry for example, have scenarios of simulated violence that could just as well have the same impact as Coronation Street.  But what separates these two? One suggested route could be the realistic nature of the programme; by subjecting children to ‘real’ people in potentially ‘real’ situations it could contextualise concepts such as murder or assault as normality.

This weeks blogger – CM.

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