Project: Recognition and telling: Developing earlier routes to safety for children and young people

Dates: September 2011 – August 2013

Funder: Officer of the Children's Commissioner for England

Team: Jeanette Cossar, Professor Marian Brandon, Sue Bailey, Dr Pippa Belderson, Dr Laura Biggart, Dr Darren Sharpe (Anglia Ruskin University) and a team of young researchers.

The government commissioned Munro Review of child protection (2011) argues that a child's journey from experiencing problems to getting effective help should be at the heart of the child protection system. It stresses the importance of an offer of early help for children and their families. The aims of the project were to examine young people's perceptions of abuse and neglect, and to explore their experiences of telling and getting help from both informal and formal sources.

The key research questions are:

• How do children and young people think about and classify experiences as abuse and neglect?

• How do children and young people tell about the problems they are facing?

• What are young people's views about support services?

• How do family members experience support services for children?

• How do professionals feel that access to support services could be improved for children and young people?

The study employed six young researchers with experience or knowledge of the topic, aged between 16 and 24. The team of adult and young researchers undertook an analysis of an online message board, interviews with vulnerable young people aged 11-19, and six focus groups conducted with children and young people, family members, and professionals.

Findings suggested that young people face a variety of problems ranging in severity and duration. Often young people express the dilemma of feeling that the situation cannot continue as it is, whilst not knowing what to do. Young people's problems are compounded when they do not have a trusted adult they can turn to and some children are particularly vulnerable when they are isolated both at home and in the community.

Barriers to telling such as fear of the consequences may result in a young person delaying telling until they feel desperate. Young people utilise their peers for emotional support and offloading. However, where the aim is to get action to stop abuse young people recommend telling an adult rather than a peer. The research aims to contribute to service provision to improve access to support for children and young people who are at risk of abuse and neglect. Implications for policy and practice form part of the final report.

A launch event took place on 22nd October 2013 at Westminster. A report endorssed by Maggie Atkinson, Childrens Commissioner for England was produced for the Office of the Children's Commissioner and published online. A young people's version of the report was also made available.

'It takes a lot to build trust' Recognition and Telling: Developing earlier routes to help for children and young people - Full report

‘It takes a lot to build trust' Recognition and Telling: Developing earlier routes to help for children and young people - Executive summary