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 out – Children in DV households tend to suffer neglect, often because the primary carer is the victim Discussion • 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 neglect?