Labour conference: Social workers need to ‘see and hear’ neglected children

The NSPCC has urged the government to better support social workers to identify cases of childhood neglect, and to ensure children in troubled households are properly seen and heard.

NSPCC head of policy and public affairs Diana Sutton said Lord Laming’s report on child protection in the wake of the Baby Peter tragedy did not sufficiently cover these two areas of practice.

Speaking at a Labour conference fringe event, Crying Out For Protection: How Reform Can Save Children From Abuse, Sutton said: “Children not being seen and heard is a feature of many serious case reviews.

“Children need to be seen and listened to. There is more needed on guidance and training.”

She also called for government to revise guidance on when to remove a child from a household and place them in care, as well as revise existing definitions of neglect.

Sutton added that the government should finally introduce a ban on smacking and to ignore public concerns that such a move amounted to a “nanny state”.

“The government has to bite the bullet to ban smacking. Make the law and public opinion will follow,” she said.

Children’s minister Dawn Primarolo used the event to sketch out plans for this autumn’s forthcoming families and relationships green paper.

“We want to finally grapple with the very basic principles we want to see underpinning all our policies on working with children and young people,” Primarolo said.

She said the paper would seek to “address issues of responsibility of local authorities and as individual members of the community when we see or hear what we know is not right”.

Primarolo added that the green paper’s arrival would create a public debate on relationships across society between parents and carers and their children.