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11. Involving children in child protection practice

  • Children’s lack of knowledge about the child protection process, prior to first engagement with it, is likely to be a cause of anxiety and sometimes fear regarding what will happen during it.
  • Children value professionals who are approachable, who take their views seriously and who they feel they can talk to and trust with delicate information. Building trust between children and professionals is done over a period of time, requiring organisational priority be given to practitioners spending time with children on their caseload, and to providing continuity of practitioners wherever possible.
  • The wider availability and use of independent advocacy is one important way of ensuring a child’s voice is better heard within the child protection process. In using child advocates, clarity about the role and remit of the advocate for all involved is crucial.
  • Children’s involvement in child protection processes can pose some particularly difficult challenges, especially where children want something that conflicts with professional assessment of what is in their welfare interests. However, research suggests that children value being engaged and having their views taken seriously, even where the outcomes are not ones with which they agree.
    Children in Scotland, no date; Oliver et al, in Stein, 2009; Woolfson et al, 2010