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Case studies: the poll

The Children’s Hearings System deals with thousands of cases each year. The following examples are taken from a Scottish Executive consultation pack concerning the Children’s Hearings System. It contains ten scenarios typical of what Hearings are regularly expected to consider and make a decision on.

Voting in the poll has now closed. Read further for Graham’s analysis of the poll results.

The case studies provided in this poll were examples of the context in which the Children’s Hearings System is working. Each child is different and a Reporter or Hearing would have had an opportunity to explore issues further in discussion with the child, the parents, the social workers or others to decide what action to take. The cases are provided below:

  • Kelly is 14. She does not attend school regularly and when she does she falls asleep in class. She was referred by her guidance teacher.

  • Jane is 7 and Jim is 5. Their mother lives with a man who regularly physically assaults her. Neighbours reported their concerns to the police.

  • Gavin is 12. He has been taken out of class on several occasions because of his behaviour. He has now been charged with damaging cars outside the school. The police reported Gavin to the Reporter.

  • ‘Kirstie’ is about to be born. Her parents are both heroin addicts. The health visitor referred the unborn child to the Reporter.

  • Lauren is 13. She swears constantly using sexually explicit language, abuses teachers, especially male staff, and has harmed herself on several occasions. Lauren’s parents referred her to the Social Work Department.

  • Ross is 18 months old. He is in hospital with a broken arm. He was in the care of his parents at the time. There is no proof as to what happened. Ross was referred by the doctor to the Social Work Department.

  • Andy is 11 and has been charged with stealing from shops.

  • Claire is 14. She threw a bottle through a shop window. She was caught doing this on CCTV and the police referred her to the Reporter.

  • John is 14. He has been charged with assaulting another 14-year-old boy and fracturing his jaw. The incident was reported to the police who referred John to the Reporter.

  • Helen is 5. She is often seen out late at night. She is either on her own in the local park, or out with older children. The police returned Helen home one night and referred the child to the Reporter.

Graham’s analysis of the poll. The week 5 poll asked participants to rank the ten scenarios in terms of perceived risk. As can be seen in the table below, the three scenarios which gathered the most votes were the three which featured the youngest children, or indeed as yet unborn children. It would seem safe to assume that age has been a significant factor in determining votes. At the other end of the scale three of the scenarios – Andy, Claire and Gavin – gathered very few votes. Here we can perhaps assume that the scenario and behaviour described, whilst still concerning, is not viewed as immediately risky as the scenarios involving the younger children.

Child (age) % of votes
Kelly (14) 4%
Jane (7) & Jim (5) 57%
Gavin (12) 2%
‘Kirstie’ (unborn) 78%
Lauren (13) 40%
Ross (18 months) 20%
Andy (11) 1%
Claire (14) 1%
John (14) 8%
Helen (5) 89%

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Vulnerable Children

University of Strathclyde