Interesting Papers Offering Controversial Perspectives on Family Law

We saw these articles this morning and thought they were interesting and worth a read.

The first looks at privileging adoption over fertility treatment in America. It’s written by Jurgen De Wispelaere. The paper offers an ethical proposition: why not ensure that all children without a home are cared for first before allowing couples to engage in fertility treatment? Setting aside the rights and wrongs of adoption and the possible mistakes which we know occur in removal, and looking at this concept ‘as is’, it’s clearly controversial. At its heart, it focuses on the interests of born children versus unborn children. We can see arguments both for and against this view but we’d love to hear your thoughts and engage with you on them.

The second paper looks at marriage, cohabitation, paternity tests, contact, care orders and more. The author is Ng Cin Yan. The paper is divided into short articles, makes for an accessible read and is also though-provoking.


Spotlight On: Aviva’s Awkward Conversations

British insurance company Aviva, has teamed up with international charity Railway Children, which helps children who have run away from home due to abuse or neglect, to help raise money to provide these children with the support they need.

Both websites tell us that every five minutes a child runs away from home in the UK. That’s over 100,00 children under the age of 16, every year. 

Aviva’s Awkward Conversations campaign aims to tackle the issues runaway children in Britain are dealing with and has pledged to give £2 to charity Railway Children, for every ‘conversation’ uploaded onto their site. So how does it work?

You simply upload an awkward or difficult conversation you’ve had with your child. If your conversation is chosen, Aviva will then donate £2 to Railway Children, to help them continue their work supporting children who’ve run away from home.

It’s a lovely idea, and aims to play on the notion that all children need someone to communicate with and to help them make sense of the world. At its heart, the campaign highlights how very important emotional support is for children, of all ages and in all contexts.

If you want to see what kinds of conversations people have sent in, you can check them out here.





New Duty To Report Child Abuse?

If the news today is anything to go by, it would appear that David Cameron is thinking about making it mandatory to report suspected child abuse. Institutions like hospitals, schools and children’s homes may be among those who will be required to report.

This is not a new idea. We have seen debate around the duty to disclose child abuse as recently as last year, but in the wake of the Westminster scandal and the ever growing stats on child abuse, it seems that this time, the Prime Minister may be able to push this move forward and make it law.

At the same time, MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk has today told the media he would like to see an amnesty for whistle blowers inside the social work industry who are considering reporting historic child abuse and offering any information they may have about cover ups by their employers, as the government’s inquiry gets under way.

We are not sure if the PM’s plan to impose a duty on reporting child abuse is the answer. Pressure to report unusual behaviour may lead to hasty judgment calls which could lead to mistakes. It’s also hard to know whether legal repercussions from failing to report any suspected abuse will actually ensure that more people come forward. We’re just not sure that’s how this rather complex dynamic works.

So, what do you think? Will mandatory reporting of child abuse help protect children or will it just drive abuse underground?

Out thanks go to John Malloch-Caldwell for alerting us to the Prime Minister’s address today.

The Buzz

Sadly, today’s Buzz is all around child sexual abuse, and the horrendous part our government continues to play in either engaging in it or trying to bury it under Westminster’s fraying carpets.

The Good Enough Parent & Why The System is Still Failing Our Children

We are members of an excellent site called, which offers scholarly content and research on just about everything, and being signed up to their child welfare materials, this excellent article popped into our inbox this morning and we wanted to share it.

The extract, taken from the book “Childcare in Practice” (2014) and published by Routledge is entitled, “The Good Enough Parent: Implications for Child Protection”, and is written by Peter W. Choate and Sandra Engstrom.

In this article, the authors argue that whilst child protection workers are deemed with the task of assessing whether or not a child can be sustained within the family system using the ‘good enough’ parenting standard, to date there is still no literature which offers guidance on how to put that into practice. The result of this, which is something we have said often, is that much is then left to personal discretion, which creates inconsistencies and systematic biases which work against the best interests of children inside the system.

It’s an excellent read. The language is accessible, the rationale is sophisticated and considered and the content is highly informative. From the history behind the term the ‘good enough’ parent, to assessment styles and beyond, this is a must-read for anyone who cares about improving the child protection system.

We have said it many times, but the system will not improve unless the training and materials used are of a very high standard. The lack of concrete guidance in other sectors of the system too needs to be addressed.

So we better start getting on with it.




Question It!

Welcome to another warm week, and another question which is sure to cause more fevered brows.

A deeply concerning revelation, but one which will not, sadly, be a surprise to Britain’s jaded citizens, has just hit the news stands: our politicians may have been involved in organised child sex abuse in the 1980’s. 

Lord Tebbit’s comment that there may well have been a cover up, as more than 100 files relating to historical child abuse over a 20 year period appear to have mysteriously gone missing, makes the scandal all the more believable.

Home Secretary Theresa May is set to address the House of Commons later today on the issue and may call for a full-scale investigation into the matter.

Our question for you this week then, is this: what do you think should happen next?



Study Reveals Alarming Knowledge Gaps Around Family Inflicted Child Sexual Abuse – And The Rest

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is to launch a two year inquiry into what it feels are alarming gaps in knowledge and understanding by social care professionals when it comes to child sexual abuse within families.

The findings of a study which the Commissioner launched has been published today and highlights what is a glaring omission in this field – virtually no research looking at how to help children in this context exists.

And you wonder how social workers manage to do any good at all.

Here at Researching Reform one of the things we feel very strongly about is training. If we were running the social care sector in this country we would ensure that all the courses were of the highest quality, run by the most experienced and talented people, and we would insist that prospective students were child focused and passionate about caring for others. Problems with resources inside the system aside, these measures would at least ensure that we had many more people inside the system who took pride in their work and who felt invested in making the sector exceptional.

So, whilst we think it’s great that this report highlights what is quite frankly an embarrassing truth about social work in this country, we say, what about the rest?

It’s time the UK took social care seriously and endeavoured to protect our children – each and every one.


Researching Reform for Jordans: The Welfare of the Child and Criminal Sanctions

This month for our column over at Jordans Family Law, we’ve chosen to write about what appears to be a growing trend, both nationally and internationally: criminal sanctions for bad parenting. But will this new move to punish parents protect children in the long run, and help the newly established Family Court achieve its goals of being family friendly and child focused?

That’s what we discuss in our piece. From new laws in America which seek to charge women with assault for giving birth to children with health problems, to parents being jailed in the UK for their children’s truancy, we ask whether these measures really help to reduce crimes against the child or whether they are simply ineffective.

Please do have a read of the article and tell us what you think. You can post your thoughts here, or over at the highly informative Jordans website just under the article itself. 

You can check out more articles and case summaries on Jordans’ Home Page.


Image of The Month: Retronaut

It’s one of our favourite websites on Planet Earth, and their iconic photos of children throughout the ages are always a source of fascination for us.

This month we’ve chosen to feature this gorgeous photo of children playing on an enormous chair. Taken from Retronaut’s excellent archive, the origin of this photo is unknown but dates back to the 1950’s. We especially love the happy dog snuggling in the corner of the sofa and the boys excitedly dangling from the top of the chair.

Retronaut describes itself as a photographic time machine, a digital collection of thousands of searchable photos. We may or may not have spent many hours ogling the massive database of Wonderful…..



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