A new research centre has been set up to improve training for professionals involved with children and families. The Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies, a partnership between Kingston University and Royal Holloway, University of London, will look at ways to improve detection of child abuse to help prevent future cases like Baby P. It will also carry out research examining children’s willingness to report sexual abuse.
Professor Julia Davidson, from Kingston University and Professor Antonia Bifulco from Royal Holloway, University of London – both directors of the new centre, say the it will help produce important pieces of work. “The aim of this new centre is to bring together a pool of experts, including academics in criminology, psychology and sociology as well as police officers, social workers, health workers, lawyers and teachers. They will work together on research and ways to improve training for professionals involved with children and families,” Professor Davidson said. “We hope this will ultimately help to reduce abuse suffered by children. It will also hugely improve the ability of different agencies to work together to look for solutions to child abuse.”
“Some of the other important research projects to come out of the centre will include work on how social workers assess child abuse cases,” Professor Bifulco, added. “We will be exploring how using more systematic assessment tools can help social workers to collect more reliable information. We will also be working with young people in care to see how interventions by social workers and health professionals after abuse has been detected, can help ensure a better outcome.” A series of workshops and training to help boost skills among professionals in the latest research and assessment tools are planned.
Researchers have also been looking into children’s willingness to report sexual abuse in a study funded by the Metropolitan Police. It will track the experiences of children and young people from the time a crime is reported through to the court proceedings. The study will focus on children and young people’s perception of the judicial process, their willingness to report sexual abuse and their experience of the investigative process. Police Commander Peter Spindler, of the Metropolitan Police, will outline details of the study in a short speech to launch the centre on Friday 28 March.
Other speakers at the launch event include Dr Arnon Bentovim, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who initiated the Child Sexual Abuse Assessment and Treatment Service at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. John Carr, from the Children’s Charities Coalition on Internet Safety, will also highlight the centre’s involvement in research to improve guidelines for children using the internet to help them avoid talking to strangers.
The launch event takes place at The Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, London, at 8.00pm on Friday 28 March.