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Case studies: the poll

In a step last week we provided you with a series of short case studies to consider, taken from a Scottish Executive document from 2004, The Children’s Hearings System: Section 1. These involved ten scenarios typical of what Hearings are regularly expected to consider and make a decision on. We provided some additional information in relation to each case to see if this changed your assessment.

Voting in the poll has now closed. The analysis of the poll results will be discussed in the final Google Hangout. Graham has also provided an analysis and this is given below.

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. Further investigation shows her father left the family two years ago. Her mother is a drug addict. She falls asleep in class because she is looking after her 4-year-old brother and 3-year-old sister at home. She is worried that something will happen to her mum.

  • 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. The children have never been assaulted but have witnessed their mother being abused. The police referred the children to the Hearings system because of concern about their safety. The children love their mother and she loves them.

  • 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. The Reporter contacted Gavin’s guidance teacher who notes that he has not adjusted to senior school and has difficulty concentrating in class. He now seems to have no friends in class and has been involved in various scuffles.

  • “Kirstie” is about to be born. Her parents are both heroin addicts. The health visitor referred the unborn child to the Reporter. The health visitor is worried about the state of the flat, the lack of hygiene and the absence of any preparations for the baby. Two previous children have been taken into care. Because of these concerns the health visitor made the referral when the mother was 6 months’ pregnant.

  • 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. Lauren refuses to talk about herself. Lauren’s social worker referred Lauren to the Reporter because of concerns about possible sexual abuse in the family.

  • 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. Records show that Ross has suffered various bruises over recent months. Another baby is due soon. A child protection case conference was held and it referred Ross to the Reporter.

  • Andy is 11 and has been charged with stealing from shops. The police referred Andy to the Reporter. Further investigation shows his parents are alcoholics and they give him no attention or control. He has two older brothers who are known to be “trouble-makers” but there is no evidence to take action against them.

  • 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. Her parents were shocked at her actions. Claire says little about the incident and claims not to care. She does not know why she did it. From initial reports by the social worker there are no other apparent issues in Claire’s life which cause concern.

  • 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. John has not been in trouble before. Until this year he coped well with school. His parents cannot contain him and he has begun going out with a “bad crowd”. In discussions with social workers, after initial bravado, John regrets his assault. It emerges he has begun drinking regularly.

  • 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. Helen’s father is often out drinking. There is no control in the family home. Her mother is involved in prostitution.

Graham’s analysis of the poll. The results of the polls as the amount of information available to you, and in particular changes in the amount of votes gathered by different scenarios, was very interesting. The largest changes in voting patterns were recorded in scenarios 1 and 2. The case of Kelly increased significantly from 1% to 41%. Given the extra information, and the fact that we discovered that she is taking on a caring role for her younger siblings, this is perhaps not totally surprising. Perhaps more surprising was the fact that scenario 2 involving Jane and Jim dropped from 59% to 18% despite the fact that they are living in a household where they have witnessed their mother being the victim of domestic abuse. The impact of this on them will be significant and should remain a constant source of concern.

Child (age) % of votes changing from last week to this week
Kelly (14) 1% > 41%
Jane (7) & Jim (5) 59% < 18%
Gavin (12) 1% - 1%
‘Kirstie’ (unborn) 88% < 85%
Lauren (13) 35% < 27%
Ross (18 months) 25% > 42%
Andy (11) 1% - 1%
Claire (14) 0% > 1%
John (14) 7% < 1%
Helen (5) 83% > 84%

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Vulnerable Children

University of Strathclyde

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