Workshop Presentation

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups of BME Children
BME communities are at risk of multiple disadvantages. “Despite
considerable variation between different ethnic groups, factors of
educational attainment, low income, employment and living in
disadvantaged areas mean that people from Black and Minority Ethnic
communities are at greater risk of multiple disadvantage than their white
counterparts. “(Mind the Gap).
Key Risk Factors; poverty, mobility, isolation, area of deprivation, low
education attainment (parents), parental mental health, domestic violence
(impact on child), physical and mental health, harmful practices
Whilst these risk factors affect the adults in the family, the children are
immediately more at risk due to their vulnerability.
Abuse and Neglect
What is abuse and neglect? – Statutory Definition
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a
child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by
inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.
Recognising neglect in BME families
BME families may lack understanding of what
constitutes ‘neglect’. In more extreme cases, ‘neglect’
may be an indicator of harmful practice; violence
against women and children, FGM, witchcraft,
trafficking etc.
Improved learning from anecdotal evidence
• 3 x children removed and placed into care of
LA due to fears that the children were at risk
of significant harm due to past and recent
concerns about neglect; citing lack of
supervision and possible non-accidental
injuries sustained while in the care of client
and her husband. VCF Client (Ref. 176)
BME families often lack understanding about what constitutes neglect;
children may not require such levels of supervision in country of origin, and
parents don’t understand the state’s role in bringing up their children
Improved learning from anecdotal evidence
• Child became the subject of a child protection
plan and placed into foster care under the
category of neglect and emotional abuse.
Reasons cited; the home being dirty and
untidy and no food in the home. Parent
viewed as non-cooperative by the LA
VCF Client (Ref. 156)
We need to understand key indicators, and learn from past cases, for
example the parallels to this situation and the case of Khyra Ishaq,
Birmingham; Khyra lived in a clean home, and the fridge was full.
Improved learning from anecdotal evidence
• A number of issues, including when children
were found home alone and lateness
attending nursery led to children being placed
on a child protection plan under category of
‘neglect’ in 2003/04. Case escalated to
category of ‘sexual and emotional abuse’ in
2006 and changed back to neglect in 2007.
VCF Client (Ref. 162)
When parent’s request for support is not met, this can lead to years of noncooperation by a parent, particularly if there is insufficient understanding of
the roles and responsibilities of statutory agencies to protect children
Protecting children across culture and faith
(Harmful Practice)
• Faith-based issues
– Belief system that may override the protection of the
child e.g. witchcraft/spirit possession
• Cultural issues
– Belief system that may override the protection of the
child e.g. FGM
– Fasting; depriving a child of food / not washing e.g. to
remove evil spirits
– Physical chastisement; to prevent child from speaking
– Children in DV households tend to suffer neglect,
often because the primary carer is the victim
• Action for Children Campaign; Keeping Children Safe Report
The case for reforming the law on child neglect
Will new legislation to update current law covering neglect
(passed in 1933) assist our understanding of what constitutes

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