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ARE OUR CHILDCARE PROFESSIONALS MAKING MISTAKES BY BEING TOO CAUTIOUS?

Civilised societies cannot tolerate domestic abuse and it (society) must be cautious to ensure that it is firmly addressed, right? Therein lies the problem. In the realm of alleged child abuse, ‘professional caution’ almost always involves 3 precepts. Firstly, ‘there is no smoke without fire’. Secondly, alternative carers are automatically ruled out if they don’t share the professionals’ concerns. Thirdly, ‘better to be safe than sorry’.

The problem with this approach is that people’s lives are not an exam script. ‘Implausible explanations’ for children’s ‘unexplained injuries’ have to be looked at holistically, without judgement. As one judge has said, what parents have to say is just as important as what professionals have to say. Fact is often stranger than fiction.

Also, it is natural for alternative carers to not believe that a good friend or relative is not capable of child abuse. That doesn’t mean that they can’t safely care for the child in the short to medium or even the long term.

Moreover, separating a child from his natural family even for the ‘short’ period of 26 weeks is going to cause some emotional harm. It may even cause significant and permanent emotional harm.

Do childcare professionals make mistakes by being too cautious? Least said, soonest mended!

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