SOCIAL WORK CASE STUDY EXAMPLE [Scenario 1]
The Concept of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
The concept of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults, young people, and vulnerable adults entail protecting children and vulnerable adults and preventing them from harm. The main goal is to protect them from physical, financial abuse and neglect. This is because all people deserve to be safeguarded and respected that is why organizations and society can achieve all these at extensive partnering in protecting children and vulnerable adults from harm.
‘Safeguarding children’ means promoting the wellbeing of minors, protecting them from any health impairment, and protecting them from any form of maltreatment (Burke et al., 2018). On the other hand, vulnerable adults are people ages 18 years and above, who are either disabled or ill and are incapable of protecting themselves, their rights, and their health. They are safeguarded by being protected from neglect or harm.
Children and vulnerable adults are at a higher risk of going through various forms of harm like sexual abuse, emotional abuse, like being shouted at or being threatened and financial abuse like improper use of their money by other individuals. Indicators of maltreatment include withdrawal, low self-esteem, insomnia, and physical sign of abuse like bruises, cuts, and lack of appetite.
Cherie had not noticed these symptoms in Sophie until she heard her confess to her friend about being neglected by her mother. Cherie listens to her and guarantees to get her the help she needs. Being a young worker, she should then discuss the issue with the headteacher or safeguarding, with the expectation that they will report the matter to the relevant authorities and an investigation opened. This is very vital in verifying Sophie’s accusations.
Duties of a Specific Professional Role Related to the Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
A teacher may notice and has undertaken to safeguard training to support recognizing any of the symptoms of abuse and neglect and take the necessary measures in protecting the victimized student’s overall safety. These measures include approaching and listening to the student, then reporting the matter. They should cooperate and work in partnership if applicable with those working with the child, friends, and family in safeguarding their wellbeing.
In addition to these, all the parties involved can only share the information on a need-to-know basis. The identities of the children along with the details about harm or neglect they have suffered should be only shared when necessary to protect the privacy and dignity. They should then ensure that a responsible person is appointed to live with and safeguard the child.
They should then relay information to the child on how to protect and safeguard themselves in the face of possible harm. The social worker has the responsibility to visit Sophie’s home and assess the situation. They should then try to get Sophie’s mother the help she needs, bearing in mind that that separating Sophie from her mom should be a measure of last resort.
Significant Harm’ in the Context of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
‘Significant harm’ is a crucial concept in the work of child protection. It is fundamental that all child protection staff act from high ranking executives to the frontline workers. Harm is maltreatment that could be in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, and sexual. Another form of harm is being neglected: health or behavioral, social, physical, intellectual, and emotional development impairment (White et al., 2019).
This maltreatment extends to the victimized person witnessing someone else being ill-treated. For an investigation on child protection to be initiated, there has to be a reasonable indication of harm. All government agencies are responsible for investigating ‘significant harm,’ but social services leads. Social workers must make initial inquiries about safeguarding the child (Lloyd & Firmin, 2020).
Sophie may be at risk of ‘significant harm’, as the result of the following factor: She got emotional maltreatment for seeing her mother, Julie, going through a severe depression. Her current predicament is costing her academics because she misses school to take care of her, which may have life-long effects on her mental health and intellectual abilities. It affects her to see her mother drink alcohol during the day and barely eat.
Sophie is also at risk of malnutrition because her mother does not make meals for her, and she gives her very little money for food. This is a clear indication that her mother has neglected her due to her mental health problem. Sophie is also going through financial ill-treatment because Julie is no longer working, and that is why she can only afford to give her little money for food.
In this case, Cherie has a responsibility to approach, keenly listen to her account of the situation at home, reassure her and report the matter to the Social Services agency. She should keep Sophie’s story confidential and only inform her teachers only when necessary. She informs Sophie that her mother’s lifestyle is unhealthy and that she needs help.
The level of neglect that Sophie is suffering should be assessed and the relevant action takes. If this risk is low, Sophie may not have to be separated from her mother. If the risk is high, Sophie can be taken care of, be provided a home, safety, and decent food. This is not forever, but till her mother’s mental condition gets under control so that she can go back to work and take care of Sophie again.
SOCIAL WORK CASE STUDY EXAMPLE [Scenario 2]
Possible Signs and Symptoms, Indicators, and Behaviors of Neglect or Abuse
There are multiple ways in which a person can detect an instance of any form of maltreatment. Abuse and neglect take various forms; therefore, a wide range of indicators can be used to recognize ill-treatment. Physical indicators include unexplained cuts, burns, bruising, and swelling. There could also be rope burns on the neck and limbs, bite marks, fractures, dislocations, dental, and eye injuries (Burke et al., 2018).
The victimized child may also exhibit behavioral signs of abuse and neglect. Such symptoms include sleep disturbances, uncharacteristic aggression and mood swings, withdrawal, self-harm, and unwarranted disobedience to other people. Sexual abuse may manifest itself in the form of disclosure of assaults, sitting and walking, trauma on the breasts and lower body, painful or itching genitals, pregnancy, sexually transmitted illnesses, and blood strains.
Psychological abuse is evident due to speech disorders, lagged physical development, self-harm injuries, anxiety attacks, clinical depression, excessive attention-seeking, and decreased interpersonal skills (Burke et al., 2018). Chemical abuse may be hinted by drug abuse, overly active, and disorientation. Financial abuse indicators are inaccessibility of personal funds, misappropriation of finances, excessive and inappropriate purchases, and lack of adequate finances to meet their basic needs.
Indicators of neglect include unhealthy weight changes, poor dental hygiene, low dressing, and consistent poor quality meals. They may also be indicated by fatigue, hunger, loss in communication skills, and withdrawal (Hirsch et al., 2020).
Adam should be concerned because Sam is unusually quiet for an unusually prolonged period. Sam also kept withdrawing from interaction with other students. These behavioral signs could indicate physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect. Adam also noticed aggression when Sam hit and pushed a fellow student, something that could indicate physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
Adam noticing a fresh bruising on Sam’s right arm could narrow it to physical abuse, but he is not aware whether the wound was self-inflicted. These signs are enough evidence that Sam is being abused or neglected by his mother.
Ways in Which Abusive Situation Can damage an Individual’s Health, Wellbeing, and Development
Maltreatment has devastating consequences on an individual’s health, wellbeing, and development. Abusive situations could impact their cognitive, behavioral, psychological, and physical wellbeing of a child. According to Hirsch et al. (2020), The physical consequences could take the form of bruises, brain injuries, or death. Psychological consequences of abuse and neglect could range from low self-esteem to dissociative conditions.
Here, neglect or abuse may cause brain dysfunction and even death. Brain injuries can be obtained from physical abuse and being neglected. Abuse and neglect could lead to cognitive and intellectual deficits. It impairs a child’s intellectual development with no indications of neurological deficiency. Abusive situations could also lead to antisocial behavior and aggression.
Sam is already experiencing some of these consequences of abuse and neglect, like withdrawal and aggression. If Adam fails to intervene and the abuse persists, Sam may suffer more severe consequences. He may develop psychosocial consequences like malnutrition and dehydration, which causes developmental delays, poor social skills, emotional instability, and attention dearth.
How National and Local Policies Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
There are national and local guidelines, policies, and procedures to ensure that all children grow in a safe, supportive, and secure environment. These guidelines are enshrined in The Children Act 1989 and the Safeguarding vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Alderson & Morrow, 2020). They also expect the professional involved in child work to coordinate in safeguarding all children.
Laws like the Genital mutilation Act 2003 of England ban Female Genital mutilation (FGM), a form of physical abuse protect children and vulnerable adults by creating awareness of these forms of abuse and neglect (Avalos, 2015). They obtain and distribute any information regarding a case of abuse or potential abuse. The policies also dictate the appropriate steps to be taken when dealing with a case of abuse.
Partnerships Working in the Context of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
Partnership working in safeguarding is the cooperation among agencies and professionals who work together to protect children and vulnerable adults from neglect and abuse and prevent the cases from happening (Killick & Taylor, 2020). The sharing of information among these agencies facilitates identifying the risk in advance, joint decision making, and coordination of action.
The senior officials in these agencies set guidelines on information sharing. The professionals involve pediatricians, teachers, and social workers. On the other hand, the children’s services coordinate with local authorities and the police. These professionals work together to ensure that these vulnerable persons are empowered. The pediatricians have the role of safeguarding the children by providing health care services.
They can identify symptoms of abuse or neglect while interacting with a child or a vulnerable adult. The police have a specialist whose role is to safeguard vulnerable persons. They identify children who seem to be at risk of abuse or neglect and share the information with the children’s services.
- Alderson, P., & Morrow, V. (2020). The ethics of research with children and young people: A practical handbook. SAGE Publications Limited.
- Avalos, L. R. (2015). Female genital mutilation and designer vaginas in Britain: Crafting an effective legal and policy framework. Vand. J. Transnat’l L., 48, 621.
- Burke, S. E., Sanson, A. V., & Van Hoorn, J. (2018). The psychological effects of climate change on children. Current psychiatry reports, 20(5), 35.
- Hirsch, C. H., Francis, D. C., & Bourgeois, J. A. (2016). The Physical and Behavioral Indicators of Elder Mistreatment and Neglect. In On-Call Geriatric Psychiatry (pp. 185-195). Springer, Cham.
- Killick, C., & Taylor, B. J. (2020). Assessment, risk and decision making in social work: An introduction. Learning Matters.
- White, S., Gibson, M., & Wastell, D. (2019). Child protection and disorganized attachment: A critical commentary. Children and Youth Services Review, 105, 104415.
- Lloyd, J., & Firmin, C. (2020). No further action: contextualizing social care decisions for children victimized in extra-familial settings. Youth justice, 20(1-2), 79-92.