Professional engagement in child protection: promoting reflective practice and deeper connection with the lived reality for children

Abstract

This paper uses first person inquiry and presentational form to argue the case for a sensory approach to understanding professional connection and disconnection with children who may be being abused. The approach is underpinned by an epistemology or theory of knowledge which stems from a participatory world-view where appearances are not permanent or separate from us: the act of perception takes place between the active sensible world and our own bodies, where ‘otherness’ expresses itself directly to our senses. Thus perception, conceived in this way, can lead to right action in the moment; or discounting what is actually being said by a child and disconnection. Buber’s notion of the ‘I-You’ is used to explore feelings and the movement to relation when professionals witness children’s ‘stories of suffering’ (Buber, 1965; Laub, 1992; Jones, 2008). The paper concludes by arguing the case for practitioners to become researchers of their own practice in rigorously facilitated inquiry groups. It is argued that this form of practitioner-research serves to quality assure frontline practice, and create new knowledge (or practice wisdom) such that feelings can be constructively worked with to improve connection with the lived reality for children.

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