All children have a right to grow up safe from harm. Children from all cultures are subject to abuse and neglect.
In order to make sensitive and informed professional judgements about a child’s needs and a parents’ capacity to respond to those needs, it is important that professionals are sensitive to differing family patterns and lifestyles and to child rearing patterns that vary across different racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Professionals also need to be aware of the broad social factors that can discriminate against black and minority ethnic people. However, professionals must also be clear that child abuse cannot be condoned for religious or cultural reasons.
The assessment process must maintain a focus on the needs of the individual child. It must also include consideration of the way religious beliefs and cultural traditions in different racial, ethnic and cultural groups influence their values, attitudes and behaviour and the way in which family and community life is structured and organised. However, cultural and religious factors should not be regarded as acceptable explanations for child abuse or neglect and are not acceptable grounds for inaction when there are concerns that a child is or may be suffering or likely to suffer harm.
Professionals should guard against myths and stereotypes, both positive and negative. Anxiety about being accused of racist practice should not prevent the necessary action being taken to safeguard a child as race or religion cannot be a justification for acts of omission or commission that place a child at risk of significant harm.
Practitioners should ensure that facilitation for communication is provided for children and families where English is not their first language to ensure the child and family have a full understanding of any concerns and proposed actions. To ensure faithful translations, a specialist interpreter may be needed for this purpose rather than a family member depending on the circumstances and nature of the case, and any issues arising out of the allegations made by the child. Where the use of an interpreter is dispensed with, the reasons for doing so must be recorded.
Provision of an appropriate advocate should be considered for children who feel they need additional support due to their disability, culture, race, religion, gender or sexuality