Listening to children
We must always seek to establish the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding). Yet children who come to serious harm are repeatedly missed or not seen by professionals:
Children were missing or invisible to professionals in a number of ways. They include young people who were hardly consulted or spoken with, siblings who were similarly not engaged, young people who were not seen because they were regularly out of the home or were kept out of sight, non-attendance at school, young people who absconded, ran away or went missing and children who chose not to or were unable to speak because of disability, trauma or fear.
Brandon et al (2010:55)
Before beginning an assessment, visiting a family, making a decision or writing a report you should actively consider how you are going to ensure that each young person's wishes and feelings can be taken into account, thinking carefully about the impact of age, gender, ability, ethnicity, language and other factors.
- Look for ideas and techniques for engaging children. Write down what they tell you or that you learn from your observations of them. Listen to others' observations of their views.
- Ensure they have access to independent advice and support from adults who they can contact directly and in private about problems and concerns.
- Think about their views and actively consider them in your analysis, giving them due weight in your decision. Act on their views unless there is a good reason why not, such as it adversely affects others in the household.
- Think about how their views are communicated to others so that they do not fear repercussions. They have their own right to confidentiality dependent on their age and understanding
- Reflect on what you learn about your own practice and the service they receive from their feedback.
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