Doing something, not nothing.

Woken early by the sound of loud thinking in my mind, it made sense to update this blog using the time productively.

It has been an amazing week, meeting some incredibly dedicated professionals across all agencies, and learning from them.  Training Early Years professionals in Protective Behaviours a few days ago, we discussed how a child or young person would know an adult may be someone they could go to for help.  One person suggested children might seek out someone to confide in who helped them “feel believed”.  I think most people working with children would say they always believe a child.  But believing children, and demonstrating through our practice and our interactions that we will help children feel believed are not the same thing.  How can the children you work with today see evidence that if they tell you something, they will feel believed, no matter what?

The next day, I was at Police HQ for meetings.  A senior Police lead asked me what professionals across partner agencies knew of Child Sexual Exploitation 5 years ago?  It was a question that hadn’t occurred to me; the threat of CSE – now a ‘national threat’ is high-profile priority today.  A thought-provoking question, it prompted me to focus on the prevention aspect – what can we do now to prevent CSE in five years, ten years?  CSE has been happening forever; today & everyday, as well as challenging it, we need to proactively prevent it.  Thinking of ways we can prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation is part of safeguarding…and safeguarding is everybody’s business.

I attended the University of Salford ‘s event, “Meeting the Challenge of Child Sexual Abuse; From critical interrogation to collective activism.”  An amazing conference, rich with learning, making connections with new ideas and interesting people with a shared vision. Coming away with lots to consider, the key message I keep returning to is from “Destabilising child sexual abuse has to be everybody’s business” (Donna Peach, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Salford).  If we all do our part, we can meet the challenge of Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation. Asking “What can I do?” is a great way to start doing something – thanks Donna Peach, feeling empowered rather than overwhelmed is so important and key to driving momentum of collective effort to meet the challenge.

I felt grateful to attend Police training on CSE at our Force Headquarters the following day, a great opportunity to see the value of effective joint working in relation to tackling CSE.  Hearing a survivor of CSE from Rotherham speak, our officers tried to comprehend how the abuse had continued so long. I mentioned the Jay Report – helping professionals understand what happened in Rotherham, and encouraging us to reflect on our practice across all agencies. Rotherham is an example of why listening to children is essential, and that the Voice of the Child comes in many different forms – including behaviour.

All these experiences have had a common denominator – every person involved with a child can ask themselves “What can do?” Questioning this encourages every individual to take every opportunity to do something. Surely, doing something is always better than doing nothing when it comes to the protection of children?