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From the same journal

Missing years of abuse in children's homes

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Publication details

JournalChild and Family Social Work
DatePublished - 2006
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)11-21
Original languageEnglish


This paper reflects upon the historic abuse of young people living in children's homes. Beginning with a recognition of 'individual abuse', it explores, first of all, the reasons why young people were abused, including: (1) the status of childhood and being in care; (2) the application of 'approved' treatment methods; (3) the failure of managerial, organizational and inspection systems; and (4) the institutional critique and the popularity of preventative policies. Second, by identifying common themes arising from this account, it is suggested we need to rethink the way abuse has been conceptualized. Individual direct abuse, sanctioned abuse, organized systematic abuse and system outcome abuse are discussed. Finally, the paper reviews recent changes in law, policy and practice, including the Children Act 2004, designed to prevent abuses happening again. It is argued that challenges still remain in addressing structural inequalities, improving protection, balancing needs and rights, extending protection to different groups of young people and in having a preventative vision for children's homes.

    Research areas

  • looked after children, social work issues

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