‘Successive Government Child Care Policies Have Failed to Protect Children from Abuse’. Discuss, with Specific Reference to Social Work Practice.

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‘Successive Government child care policies have failed to protect children from abuse’. Discuss, with specific reference to social work practice. In this essay I am going to give a brief overview of a few of the major child deaths that have made the news and the subsequent impact on the UK’s child safeguarding policies. I will then go on to discuss the efficacy of these policies and the aspects which have and haven’t worked in recent years. I shall be looking in more detail at the Victoria Climbie case and the subsequent Lord Laming report; the changes that occurred as a result of this and the impact of these changes on the safeguarding and protection of children today. I will then go on to examine the impact of these changes on the Baby Peter inquiry and conclude by asking whether we have done enough to protect children from harm. On the 9th January 1945, twelve year old Dennis O’Neil was found dead at his foster parent’s home. He had suffered a heart attack following a vicious beating by his foster father, Reginald Gough. Dennis had ‘… septic ulcers on his feet and severely chapped legs. He weighed just over four stone. His stomach was empty. He had been so undernourished that he had sucked cow’s udders for milk’, (Community Care Magazine, 11 January 2007). On 20th December 1944, a social worker had urged the foster parents Esther and Reginald Gough, to call for a doctor to see Dennis and in her report; Miss Edwards recommended the immediate removal of the boys (Dennis and his younger brother Terence). Neither Newport Borough Council nor Shropshire council acted on her advice; instead, the report was left for another staff member to deal with on his return from annual leave on 10th January 1945. Dennis died the day before his return. The enquiry that followed highlighted poor record keeping, failed appointments, lack of partnership working, weak supervision

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