S: Child abuse
FC: Sherine Lynch u1006207 EDO2104-Families and society Assignment 2 Word count:2860 Course examiner:Nicole Green Date submitted:19/09/2012 | Counsellors Challenge:Child Abuse
1: Child Abuse | Child abuse is a complex and serious problem affecting the most vulnerable in our society. The general definition of child abuse has evolved over the last several decades and includes both the commission of injuries and acts of omission, that is failure to care for and protect (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare,2010).
2: Child abuse | Under the Child Protection Act (1999), child abuse falls under four categories, which are emotional/psychological abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Child abuse has strong and lasting effects on children and lead to the abused child suffering a host of behavior and emotional difficulties (Kenny,2010).
3: Figure 1.Percentage breakdown of primary substantiated harm types in Australia 2010-2011 | Source:AIHW(2012)
4: The importance of child abuse to my profession | The most recent national figures from the AIHW (2012) indicate that in Australia, during 2010–11, there were 237,273 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect made to state and territory authorities. Due to the prevalence of child abuse, it is evident that all counsellors will come into contact with victims of child abuse.
5: It is therefore essential for all counsellors to have the knowledge of the signs/symptoms of abuse and neglect and reporting procedures (Kenny, 2010).
6: ____________________________________________________________ | The importance of child abuse to my profession | Early identifications and reporting of abuse reduces further harm to victims. With sufficient knowledge of child abuse and the correct resources, counsellors can play a huge part in helping victims of abuse. In the profession of counselling, you will work with children every day and become involved in their lives. One of your roles as a counsellor is a child advocate and protector (Kenny, 2010).
7: Under the Child Protection Act in Queensland(1999),counsellors must report any reasonable suspicion of child abuse.Sadly, despite the consequences for not reporting child abuse,many counsellors fail to make mandated reports due to fear of losing trust with the child and family,not wanting to get involved,fear of consequences for self, the victim and victims family(Kenny, 2010). | Reporting abuse
8: My biases, assumptions and pre-understandings | Before researching this topic, I assumed a counsellor would not have such difficulty reporting child abuse, but I am now aware of the challenges counsellors face when reporting child abuse and how difficult it can be due to fear of repercussions for self and the victim. Despite feeling bias towards the abuser, my decisions would still fall within the realms of the law and I would still have to conduct myself in a professional manner.
9: Although some counsellors fear reporting child abuse, they have an ethical responsibility to do so. This is made evident through various research and often through the media. I have a better understanding of the challenges counsellors face and no longer assume that counsellors find it easy to do the right thing. My pre-understanding was that counsellors would not find it very difficult to get involved in child abuse, however I now understand the fear of repercussions.
10: The media's view of child abuse and counsellors reporting abuse | The failures of child protection services and professionals working with children have preoccupied the media in Australia for decades(Saunders and Goddard,1998).Child protection work is immensely difficult, and extremely stressful.Professionals working in this profession are often more criticized than appreciated(Saunders and Goddard,1998). Professionals working with children,such as counsellors and child protection workers, rather than the abuser can appear in the press reports as the major threat to children(Franklin,1998).
11: This no-win situation faced by child protection workers and counsellors is arguably inherent in their potentially conflicting duties both to protect children and to preserve families.
12: The media's view of child abuse and counsellors reporting abuse | The media play an important role in constructing what is deviant in our society and therefore what is normal (Ericson et al, 1987). Cheal (2002) too acknowledges that public responses to child abuse and family violence are profoundly influenced by the prevailing ideas in society about what is deviant, compared with what is normal and therefore acceptable. Furthermore, Cheal (2002) adds that public impressions about the amount of violence and abuse depended upon the amount of information that was available, especially in the mass media.
14: The media's view of child abuse and counsellors reporting abuse | There are numerous media items bringing the issue to light. The ABC news radio broadcast (2012) ‘Reporting of the suspected child abuse under the microscope’ brings to light the prevalence of child abuse in Australia and examines the issue of mandatory reporting in Queensland. The ABC news radio broadcast (2012) addresses the issue of professionals working with children not reporting suspected child abuse and adds that those professionals will be fined.
15: More concerning are the number of comments made on the Department of Child and Safety Queensland (2012) website recently, criticizing professionals working with children. Postings, (which were all anonymous) accused professionals working with children who report abuse as incompetent and selfishly destroying families’ lives. Counsellors and child protection workers were criticized for getting involved, not considering how families would be affected by the removal of a child and being cruel and nosy. Cheal (2002) proposes peoples negative attitudes are due to the fact that most people would like to believe that we can do whatever we want in the privacy of our own homes. | Contrary to the negative postings made, one particular anonymous posting gives more positive feedback, adding that whilst people are complaining about counsellors and child protection worker's, they are saving children everyday by responding to allegations and investigations.
16: The media's view of child abuse and counsellors reporting abuse | Many took advantage of the current media attention on child abuse to boost public perceptions, namely the National Liberal Party. The recent article by the National Liberal Party(2012) ‘Strengthening Queenslands Families’ examines the issue of child abuse in Queensland and proposes to encourage counsellors to get involved in reporting child abuse and delivering additional services to victims of child abuse by providing one million dollars over four years.
17: One can say that the media is used not only to address issues but to gain public attention for selfish reasons. It is clear through various media items that deep differences of opinions exist regarding child abuse and counsellors intervening. The differences of opinions as stated by Cheal (2002) reflect cultural differences as well as political differences between people who hold different ideologies.
18: My biases,assumptions and pre-understandings | Before researching this topic, I was under the impression that the public would be encouraging counsellors to get involved and report signs of child abuse for the sake of the child. My pre-understanding was that due to counsellors advocate role in providing help and protecting those in danger, counsellors would be appreciated for getting involved and not scrutinized.
19: It is clear that the media often depicts counsellors in a negative light and fails to mention the large percentage of counselors who make a difference. I may be bias in believing the welfare of the child should always come first, despite possible consequences for the family involved.
20: The role of a counsellor | When a duty to protect arises in practice, counsellors may experience ambivalence and uncertainty with respect to the need to reconcile and integrate the professional ethics of confidentiality and legal mandates of the duty to protect .All counsellors suspecting child abuse are faced with difficult decisions which is why counsellors need to have sound knowledge on child abuse.
22: The role of a counsellor: Information counsellors need to be aware of | Kenny (2010) highlights the importance of counsellors identifying the signs/symptoms of each of the four categories of abuse(emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse).
23: Signs of emotional abuse: -Eating disturbances -Sleep disturbances -Speech disorders -Developmental lags -Behavioral extremes | Signs of neglect: -Inadequate clothing -Role reversal with siblings -Poor hygiene -Begging or stealing food | Signs of physical abuse: -Fear -Anxiety -Bruises -Lacerations,abrasions -Black eyes | Signs of sexual abuse: -Anxiety,depression -Avoidance to touch -Acting out adult sexual behavior -Reluctance to undress -Lack of emotion
24: The role of a counsellor: Understanding | Children who are abused suffer a host of behavioral and emotional difficulties. The following is a list of the most common difficulties observed and reported by abused children and adults who suffered childhood abuse(Kenny,2010): -depressions -anxiety -low self-esteem -substance abuse -eating disorders -repetition of the cycle of abuse
26: The role of a counsellor: Skills required | Counsellors need to be able to effectively identify signs of child abuse under the appropriate category in order to make a decision.
27: According to Kenny(2010), an effective counsellor that suspects abuse will use the following skills to assess the situation: -Take the child to a quiet,private area -Gently encourage the child to give you enough information to evaluate whether abuse may have occurred -Remain calm so as not to upset the child -If the child reveals the abuse, reassure the child that you believe him/her, that he/she has the right to tell you. and that he/she is not bad -Tell the child you are going to talk to people who can help him/her -Record all information -Immediately report the suspected abuse
28: The role of a counsellor: Skills required | There are five stages during counselling: 1. Establishing a relationship 2. Exploring the problem 3. Exploring the solutions 4. Making a choice 5. Taking action Each stage requires different but complimentary skills from the counsellor.
29: Other skills required in counselling are listening skills Listening Skills: -Repetition -Reflection -Paraphrasing -Summarizing -Clarifying -Questioning (Open questioning, -multiple questions etc) -Focusing / being specific
30: The role of a counsellor: Skills required | Lifeline's Counsellor Training Toolkit(2006) identifies essential counselling skills as: -Empathy -Listening Skills -Reflecting Skills: -Reflecting Feelings -Restating/Reframing -Affirmation -Summarizing -Probing/Action Skills: -Asking Questions (Clarifying) -Interpretation or Making Statements -Confrontation or Challenging -Information Sharing and Education -Problem Solving/Problem Management
31: Corey(2011) identifies listening skills as: -Repetition -Reflection -Paraphrasing -Summarizing -Clarifying -Questioning (Open questioning, -multiple questions etc) -Focusing / being specific
32: The role of a counsellor: Processes to follow | Under the Child Protection Act(1999), any professional involved in working with children are mandated by law to report any signs of abuse or neglect, even if there isn't sufficient evidence. Counsellors can report abuse by: -Calling the Child Help National Child abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) or report it to their state child abuse hotline -Reporting abuse on line(Queenslands child abuse website)
34: The role of a counsellor: Processes to follow | Kenny(2010)identifies the process of reporting. When reporting, you will be asked to provide: -child's name and contact information -information on suspected abuse -reason for suspicion -details -suspected perpetrator's name -information regarding parents
35: Make sure to: -describe the situation clearly and include all information that you have -share any knowledge of previous incidents including the nature of the extent -include all reactions of the child -communicate any sense of urgency you observe -give your name(confidential)
36: The role of a counsellor: Ethical responsibilities | Reporting child abuse frequently becomes an ethical dilemma as a result of complex interactions including diverse professional contexts,legal requirements,professional-ethical standards, and the circumstances of suspected abuse(McLeod,2000). The ethical and legal duties of counsellors are to act in the best interest of the child by reporting concerns(Larcher,2007).
37: As previously mentioned, counsellors are required by law to report possible abuse. Regardless of mandatory reporting requirements, counsellors have ethical responsibilities to children(Larcher,2007). It is the view of the Australian Guidance and Counselling Association (1997), according to the values and guidelines of the Code of Ethics(1997) that counsellors have the ethical obligation to protect and promote the rights and wellbeing of children who are experiencing abuse. As a general rule, counsellors should make a report to child protection whereby doing so will or could prevent an actual,identifiable risk of harm to a child(Code of Ethics, 1997).
38: My ongoing professional learning strengths and opportunities | What I learnt: I have learnt that counsellors have a very challenging job. Counsellors are often faced with difficult decisions, such as whether or not to report child abuse. Decisions like these can put counsellors under immense pressure. Counsellors have the responsibility to do what is best for the client or the victim of abuse and often making decisions about what is best for the victim of abuse can be very overwhelming and stressful for counsellors. I have learnt that counsellors have an ethical responsibility and that this often complicates the counsellor's decisions. Counsellors decisions affect people's lives and this alone is a huge responsibility which needs careful consideration.
39: Surprises: I was surprised at the number of children being abused in Australia. I was not aware of the large percentage of children suffering abuse. I was even more surprised to find out that many counsellors fail to report child abuse. Challenges: One of the biggest challenges counsellors face are ethical dilemmas. For this reason counsellors need to be aware of their power in the relationship and how to deal with dilemmas that may arise. Other challenges are reporting abuse , forming relationships with the victim of abuse and always making the best decisions on behalf of the victim.
40: My ongoing professional learning strengths and opportunities | What I found challenging: I sometimes found it challenging to view pictures of children being abused, however viewing these pictures made me want to get involved in helping abused children even more. Still to know and learn: Although I learnt a lot about child abuse, I will still need to learn more about the different ways abuse effects children and their family as well as develop a better knowledge of the signs of abuse in order to be a good counsellor and help children and their families. I will also need to gain extensive knowledge of the ethical responsibilities counsellors have.
41: What I will do as a consequence of what I have learnt and experienced: Learning about child abuse has made me certain that I want to work with children and help them. Through researching the topic, I have gained a better understanding of the effects of child abuse and the necessary steps to take to help victims of abuse. I understand the importance of reporting abuse and will aim to always report signs of abuse when I am a counsellor, no matter how challenging it may be. I will study this topic further to better my skills as a counsellor so that I am better equipped to help victims of abuse and their families and will gain more knowledge of the ethical responsibilities I have as a counsellor.
42: Useful resources | Helpguide.org is a useful website for families and communities which provides information on recognizing and preventing child abuse and neglect. Information is also provided on understanding child abuse and neglect, myths and facts about child abuse,the effects of child abuse, types of abuse,warning signs of child abuse,reporting child abuse and how to help children being abused.This is a useful website for families and communities wanting to know more about child abuse and how they can help. Contact details are also provided.
43: This website can be easily accessed by going to the url address: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/child_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm Help.org is a trusted non profit resource founded in 1999 by Robert Segal who holds a masters degree in educational psychology and Jean Segal who has been a psychotherapist for 40 years and has published numerous books on child abuse. Both founders are highly qualified thus making this resource credible. Helpguide also collaborates with Harvard Health Publications. This resource does not have any limitations as it can be easily accessed, is credible and provides sufficient information on child abuse and how you can help.
44: The Australian Institute of Family Studies provides a vast amount of information on child abuse, the different types of abuse and legal issues regarding the issue. This website also provides a list of references at the bottom of the page that you can access to find out further information on the topic, as well as facts and figures of child abuse and further information on economic and social pressure and family breakdowns. This is relevant to families and the community who wish to understand child abuse and the legalities involved.
45: This website can be easily accessed by going to the url address: http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/factsheets/a142091/index.html | This website is useful in informing others of child abuse, the law regarding child abuse, and the effects of child abuse, however fails to provide information on reporting abuse and relevant contact numbers(to report abuse). Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange is hosted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. It is an amalgamation of three previous AIFS clearinghouses: National Child Protection Clearinghouse, Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse, and Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia. As this website is funded by the government , credible information is provided and the contributors are highly qualified in the area of expertise.
46: The Queensland Governments Department of Child Safety and Disability website provides numerous booklets for families and the community to access.The child abuse booklet provides information on signs of child abuse and neglect,why to break the silence about child abuse,effects of harm,how to prevent abuse,reporting child abuse,responding to child abuse,additional resources and contact numbers. This booklet is very informative,provides extensive information on child abuse and provides information on how to report abuse and why it's important. Responding to child abuse Ongoing intervention Contacts Resources and publications
47: This booklet can be easily accessed by going to the url address: http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/resources/childsafety/child-protection/child-abuse-brochure.pdf The contributors of this booklet are members of the Child Safety Services. The Department of Communities (Child Safety Services)is the lead government agency that provides child protection and adoption services in Queensland.Child Safety Services administers the Child Protection Act 1999 and the Adoption Act 2009. Due to the booklet being comprised by the Department of Communities, all information is credible, well researched and up to date. There were no limitations with this resource. This resource provided extensive information on child abuse and all necessary information was covered. This resource proved to be the best resource.
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