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Title: The evidence of absence : constructing child neglect in safeguarding practice
Author: Lee-Wilson, Pia
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 1757
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2014
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In 2008 three-year-old Tiffany Wright and seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq died of neglect. In 2011 the mummified remains of four-year-old Hamzah Khanwas found in his cot. It is believed he had died some two year previously of neglect. In 2012 four-year-old Daniel Pelka's was starved by his parents and died of neglect. All of the children had at some time been the subjects of safeguarding procedures and investigations1. The practice reviews surrounding the events that led up to their deaths identified flawed communication between and within agencies as a contributing factor. Whilst there has been a number of safeguarding initiatives aimed at alleviating the potential for neglect, there remains an absence of research around how neglect is represented in practice guidance, how safeguarding practitioners conceptualise neglect and how they operationalise the guidance (Parton, 2010; Holland, 2011). A Foucauldian informed thematic analysis was completed and two key themes were identified – ‘Failure and Absence as Risk’ and ‘Experts and Expertise’. These themes highlighted how neglect is represented as only occurring in particular ways with certain families. This allows other families to fall from view and for neglect to be silent. Eleven semi-structured interviews were also undertaken with safeguarding practitioners from across the four key agencies – education, health, police and social care. All practitioners were either working in or had worked in one or more London Boroughs and all were employed in a safeguarding role. This analysis demonstrated a theory-practice nexus that was often contradictory to the practice guidance. Safeguarding practitioners were able to draw on their own subjugated understandings of neglect to position potentially neglectful mothers as in need of protection rather than their children. Practitioners were also able to position themselves within the same discourse of protection that made it possible for them to resist an overtly governed practice and, as a consequence, they could remain silent around the possibility of neglect and prevent any possible punitive action brought by involving other practitioners. This has implications for safeguarding practice. It is suggested that critical reflection and learning could enhance the reliability of emotive intuitive skills and systematic analytic skills if practitioners remain open to the conditions of possibilities of neglect and do not silence others.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available