Safeguarding children and young people demands a focus upon Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Many of us have seen the recent news related to ‘ChildQ’ and some may have read the case review of events leading to her being subjected to an ‘intimate strip search’, whilst at school, without an adult present.
The investigation has highlighted that racism was a factor in the way that this situation was managed and that ‘ChildQ’ was regarded as THE risk, rather than AT risk. This led to her experiencing a traumatic and intrusive act, at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect her.
For ‘ChildQ’ this has left her self-harming and needing therapy.
What this means is that a child, who was in the middle of sitting an exam and was a grade A student, a prefect and top of her class, previously outgoing and doing well, now describes herself as being in a box, which is crumbling around her.
No doubt, there will be many lessons cited.
For us at Chrysalis Care, it reinforces why the integration of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is essential. Afterall, how can we safeguard children and young people and provide opportunities for growth and enrichment, without paying close attention to the lens through which we see the world.
As an Independent Fostering Agency, we are part of the wider system of social services and no matter how abstract that may appear, the system is made up of people. People who are charged with making the right decisions. With not being led by assumption. With investing in regular and ongoing reality-checks about how we see the world and why and who may be affected by a limited or skewed view.
In the case of ‘ChildQ’, these assumptions led to her being perceived, not as a child who should be protected but dehumanised, assumed a perpetrator.
Since we engaged in EDI training last year, we have been reviewing the principles promoted here Equality, diversity and inclusion | The Fostering Network, taking each one in turn during team meetings, exploring what they mean to us and for us, how we implement them, where we need to improve, etc.
In light of what has happened to ‘ChildQ’, we – all of us – need to ramp up our investment in how we safeguard children and young people and how intersectionality plays a role.
We must not allow any more incidents like this to occur, at the hands of those charged with protecting children and young people.