• Abuse between young people: a contextual account

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Routledge, 2017-12-14)
      Awareness of peer-on-peer abuse is on the rise and is a matter of increasing international concern. Abuse Between Young People: A Contextual Account is the first book to offer a contextualised narrative of peer-on-peer abuse that moves beyond recognising an association between environments and individual choice, and illustrates the ways in which such interplay occurs. Using both sociological and feminist perspectives, Firmin reshapes the way that peer-on-peer abuse is perceived and investigates the effect of gendered social context on the nature of abuse between young people. This text also uses an in-depth case study to explore associations between abusive incidents and young people’s homes, peer groups, schools and neighbourhoods, in addition to broader societal influences such as pornography and politics. National and international policies are woven into each chapter, along with insights from parenting programmes, the troubled families’ agenda, and bullying and community safety policies. Abuse Between Young People presents a clear insight into the various contexts that affect the nature of peer-on-peer abuse, providing a thorough analysis into the debates on this issue. In so doing, Firmin creates a vital contextual approach to safeguarding young people affected by this issue. It is invaluable reading for students and researchers in social work, education, criminology, sociology and psychology, as well as practitioners and policymakers concerned with the protection of young people.
    • Applying thresholds to extra-familial harm: learning from Hackney’s Child Wellbeing Framework

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Owens, Rachael; Peace, Delphine; Contextual Safeguarding Network; University of Bedfordshire (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2019-10-31)
      The Hackney Child Wellbeing Framework provides a framework for Hackney’s Children and Families Service, partner services and agencies to determine the right intervention for a child and a family, including which services should respond and what is required for a statutory intervention. The document proposes three levels of intervention: Universal: a response by universal services, often working individually. Within an extra-familial scenario, this also includes ensuring safety for young people within universally available leisure and recreational provision. Universal Plus/Universal Partnership Plus: a response by universal services working together in universal settings and sometimes bringing additional targeted resources into a multi-agency partnership plan to both assess and address concerns. Complex and/or High Risk: a response that requires multi-agency and/or specialist services, often governed by statutory frameworks, to take the lead role. The document considers these levels of interventions in relations to different domains including children’s health, emotional health, wellbeing and behaviour; education; neighbourhood; family and parenting.
    • Auditing your local response to peer-on-peer abuse

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; MsUnderstood Partnership; University of Bedfordshire (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2016-07-20)
      In 2013, 40 local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) applied to the MsUnderstood Partnership1 (MSU) for support in building their response to peer-on-peer abuse. 11 LSCBs were selected and since January 2014 we have worked with them to develop responses to peer-on-peer abuse. This briefing explains our approach to the first phase of the support process – a local audit, and is intended to support other areas to audit their own response to peer-on-peer abuse.
    • Beyond referrals: levers for addressing harmful sexual behaviours between students at school in England

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Lloyd, Jenny; Walker, Joanne; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor & Francis, 2019-09-18)
      From sexist comments and harassment through to contact offences, schools are locations where young people experience sexual abuse from peers. This paper reports findings of a multi-site study into levers for preventing peer-sexual abuse in educational settings in England. Data gathered through practice observations, case and policy reviews and focus groups with professionals and students were analysed through the lens of both a whole school approach and Contextual Safeguarding with a particular focus on gender to identify four levers of peer-sexual abuse prevention. This paper reports how these four levers interact to create social conditions which prevent, or reduce the risk of, peer-sexual abuse in schools. Opportunities for schools, regulators and child protective services to use these levers, and the methodologies employed to identify them, are also outlined, as well as implications for policy
    • Child protection and contexts of recognition

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; (Wiley, 2020-04-06)
      The papers in this edition of Child Abuse Review cover a broad range of topics relevant to the protection of children and the prevention of abuse. From child safety in sporting contexts, the identification of children with early adverse experiences, and supporting young children within foster care settings; through to routes for disclosing child sexual abuse (CSA) and the educational experiences of young people living in domestic abuse refuges – the papers selected cover a diverse ground. Yet collectively they tell a shared story about the contexts of child abuse – and importantly the contexts in which child abuse can be recognised, and thereby prevented or disrupted.
    • Child sexual exploitation

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Beckett, Helen (Cambridge University Press, 2014-10-01)
      The issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) has received increasing attention in recent years following a number of high-profile legal cases, a growing body of research evidence, and a series of policy imperatives clarifying agency responsibilities and expected responses to the issue. Acknowledging that awareness and understanding of CSE is, in many ways, still in its infancy – yet recognizing that there are clear expect-ations upon professionals in terms of their required responses to the issue – this chapter provides a synopsis of learning around CSE in terms of definition, identification and response. The chapter purposively does not consider issues specific to forensic gynaecology in terms of examination or aftercare, but instead refers the reader to Chapters 8 and 9 for a detailed expos-ition of these issues.
    • Considerations in the use of local and national data for evaluating innovation in children’s social care

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Preston, Oli; Godar, Rebecca; Lefevre, Michelle; Boddy, Janet; University of Sussex; University of Bedfordshire; Research in Practice (Emerald, 2021-05-06)
      Design/methodology/approach This paper examines the use of data routinely collected by local authorities as part of the evaluation of innovation. Issues entailed are discussed and illustrated through two case studies of evaluations conducted by the research team within the context of children’s social care in England. Purpose We explore the possibilities in using such national, statutory datasets for evaluating change and the challenges of understanding service patterns and outcomes in complex cases when only a limited view can be gained using existing data. Our discussion also explores how methodologies can adapt to evaluation in these circumstances. Findings The quantitative analysis of local authority data can play an important role in evaluating innovation but researchers will need to address challenges related to: selection of a suitable methodology; identifying appropriate comparator data; accessing data and assessing its quality; and sustaining and increasing the value of analytic work beyond the end of the research. Examples are provided of how the two case studies experienced and addressed these challenges. Originality/value The paper discusses some common issues experienced in quasi-experimental approaches to the quantitative evaluation of children’s services which have, until recently, been rarely used in the sector. There are important considerations which are of relevance to researchers, service leads in children’s social care, data and performance leads, and funders of innovation. Implications of the research for policy and practice * Quasi-experimental methods can be beneficial tools for understanding the impact of innovation in children’s services, but researchers should also consider the complexity of children’s social care and the use of mixed and appropriate methods. * Those funding innovative practice should consider the additional burden on those working with data and the related data infrastructure if wishing to document and analyse innovation in a robust way. * Data which may be assumed to be uniform may in fact not be when considered at a multi-area or national level, and further study of the data recording practice of social care professionals is required.
    • Contextual risk, individualised responses: an assessment of safeguarding responses to nine cases of peer-on-peer abuse

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Wiley, 2017-02-21)
      Practitioners, academics and policymakers are increasingly questioning the sufficiency of safeguarding practice in protecting young people from peer-on-peer abuse in England. Using the findings from an in-depth analysis of nine cases where young people either raped or murdered their peers, this article explores approaches to assessing and intervening with those affected by peer-on-peer abuse. Building upon international calls for a contextual account of abuse between young people, the article identifies a professional struggle to address the interplay between young people’s homes and the public and social spaces in which peer-on-peer abuse often manifests. Findings from this study are used to illuminate wider research into peer-on-peer abuse which has indicated a professional inability to: assess young people’s behaviours with reference to the contexts in which they occur; change the environmental factors that influence abusive behaviours; and recognise the vulnerability of those who abuse their peers. The article concludes that to effectively respond to peer-on-peer abuse, multi-agency partnerships are required which can identify, assess and intervene with the norms in peer groups, schools and public spaces that can facilitate peer-on-peer abuse and undermine parental capacity to keep young people safe - thereby adopting a more contextual approach to safeguarding adolescents.
    • Contextual safeguarding and case management systems: emerging lessons from across the Contextual Safeguarding programme

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Contextual Safeguarding Network; University of Bedfordshire (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2020-07-31)
      This briefing summarises emerging lessons for the designers and users of case management systems in children’s services with an interest in Contextual Safeguarding; all information shared in this briefing is taken from the Contextual Safeguarding research programme at the University of Bedfordshire.
    • Contextual safeguarding and child protection: rewriting the rules

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Routledge, 2020-05-20)
      This book offers a complete account of Contextual Safeguarding theory, policy, and practice frameworks for the first time. It highlights the particular challenge of extra-familial routes through which young people experience significant harm, such as child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, serious youth violence, domestic abuse in teenage relationships, bullying, gang-association, and radicalisation. Through analysing case reviews, observing professionals, and co-creating practices with them, Firmin provides a personal, philosophical, strategic, and practical account of the design, implementation and future of Contextual Safeguarding. Drawing together a wealth of practice examples, case studies, policy references, and practitioner insights for the first time, this book articulates a new safeguarding framework and provides a detailed account of its translation across an entire child protection system and its relevant component parts. It will be of interest to all scholars, students, and professionals working within social work, youth justice and youth work, policing and law enforcement, community safety, council services, forensic and clinical psychology, counselling, health, and education
    • Contextual safeguarding: a new way of identifying need and risk

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (2019-03-25)
      Carlene Firmin reflects on the first four years of her approach to tackling extra-familial child abuse, and looks forward to more councils putting it into practice
    • Contextual safeguarding: an overview of the operational, strategic and conceptual framework.

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire, 2017-11-30)
      Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships. Therefore children’s social care practitioners need to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over/within extrafamilial contexts, and recognise that assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices. Contextual Safeguarding, therefore, expands the objectives of child protection systems in recognition that young people are vulnerable to abuse in a range of social contexts.
    • Contextualizing case reviews: a methodology for developing systemic safeguarding practices

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Wiley, 2017-06-27)
      This paper introduces a systemic methodology for reviewing professional responses to abuse between young people. The approach, “contextual case reviewing,” draws upon constructivist structuralism to assess the extent to which safeguarding practices engage with the social and public contexts of abuse. The paper conceptually compares the methodologies of contextual case review and other serious case review methods before drawing upon findings from 2 studies, which used the contextual case review methodology to explore the extrafamilial nature of peer‐on‐peer abuse and the ability of child protection practices to engage with this dynamic. Thematic findings from these studies regarding the practical interpretation of “significant harm” and “capacity to safeguard,” as well as their use within child protection assessments, are used to challenge conclusions of other case reviews, which imply that child protection procedures are sufficient for safeguarding young people. Contextual case reviews suggest that safeguarding practices, and the legislation that underpins them, are culturally, procedurally, and organisationally wedded to the context of the home, whereas insufficiently engaged with extrafamilial contexts of significant harm. The application of these issues require interrogation if social work systems are to provide sufficient mechanisms for safeguarding young people and families at risk of significant harm. 
    • Criminal gangs, male-dominated services and the women and girls who fall through the gaps

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2016-01-01)
      This chapter reviews the literature on seeking and receiving help for black women, and the knowledge base on black women in the UK is very limited. African-American women have been also found to stay silent for longer about experiences of sexual violence because of internalised concepts of female strength. Beth Richie's concept of gender entrapment was used to map how violence against women may be reprioritised by the protecting, or overvaluing of black boys/men or through the systematic bodily devaluation of black girls/women. The contemporary construction of the strong black woman may enable some African-American women to cope with little support while simultaneously creating the illusion that the multiple social injustices they contend with can be overcome through individual psychological resolve. African-American woman are thus found to be less likely to seek help from mental health services in the aftermath of sexual violence, unless they are severely distressed.
    • Developing holistic and coordinated strategic approaches to peer-on-peer abuse: extract #5

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Curtis, George; Fritz, Danielle; Olaitan, Paul; Latchford, Lia; Lloyd, Jenny; Larasi, Ikamara; Contextual Safeguarding Network (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2016-06-07)
      In this extract from the report 'Towards a Contextual Response to Peer-on-Peer Abuse: Research and Resources from MsUnderstood local site work 2013-2016', researchers discuss how they helped local sites improve the coordination in their response to safeguarding adolescents in general and peer-on-peer abuse specifically.
    • Engagement of community, specialist and voluntary organisations: extract #4

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Curtis, George; Fritz, Danielle; Olaitan, Paul; Latchford, Lia; Lloyd, Jenny; Larasi, Ikamara; Contextual Safeguarding Network (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2016-06-17)
      This extract from the report 'Towards a Contextual Response to Peer-on-Peer Abuse: Research and Resources from MsUnderstood local site work 2013-2016' highlights researchers' work with community, voluntary and specialist organisations in the response to peer-on-peer abuse. The extract discusses a train-the-trainer programme, a study on detached youth work provision and building awareness and partnerships amongst community sector provision.
    • Evidence based approaches to violence reduction: a discussion paper

      Davey, Peter; Bath, Rachel; Staniforth, Rachel; Firmin, Carlene Emma; MacFarlane, Colin; Sebire, Jackie; Cestaro, David; Contextual Safeguarding Network (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2021-03-30)
      This document helps practitioners to understand Public Health, Problem-solving and Contextual Safeguarding approaches as three complementary evidence-based approaches to violence reduction.
    • Evidencing peer-on-peer abuse in educational settings

      Fritz, Danielle; Firmin, Carlene Emma; Contextual Safeguarding Network; University of Bedfordshire (Contextual Safeguarding Network, 2016-12-31)
      The purpose of this learning project was to understand how professionals capture, share and use information about peer-on-peer abuse that occurs within schools and alternative education settings. We highlight examples of promising practice and identify challenges professionals face in recording, sharing and/or using this information. Sixteen practitioners participated in this Learning Project, including professionals working within education, youth justice, children and young people’s services and the voluntary sector.
    • From 'no further action' to taking action: England's shifting social work responses to extra-familial harm

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Lloyd, Jenny; Walker, Joanne; Owens, Rachael; University of Bedfordshire (Policy Press, 2021-07-15)
      In 2018, England’s safeguarding guidelines were amended to explicitly recognise a need for child protection responses to extra-familial harms. This article explores the feasibility of these amendments, using quantitative and qualitative analysis of case-file data, as well as reflective workshops, from five children’s social care services in England and Wales, in the context of wider policy and practice frameworks that guide the delivery of child protection systems and responses to harm beyond families. Green shoots of contextual social work practice were evident in the data set. However, variance within and across participating services raises questions about whether contextual social work responses to extra-familial harm are sustainable in child protection systems dominated by a focus on parental responsibility. Opportunities to use contextual responses to extra-familial harm as a gateway to reform individualised child protection practices more broadly are also discussed.
    • From genograms to peer-group mapping: introducing peer relationships into social work assessment and intervention

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Policy Press, 2017-10-27)
      Despite evidence that young people’s peer relationships are associated with their experiences of abuse, child protection guidance directs social work practice to be primarily focused on the assessment of, and intervention with, families. Presenting data from two studies into the nature of, and safeguarding response to, peer abuse in England, this article questions the familial parameters of child protection frameworks, and evidences the need to include peer group relationships within social work assessment. Drawing on Bourdieu’s sociological theory, a conceptual framework is used to evidence that familial-focused practice fails to address the extra-familial social conditions in which peer abuse manifests. Complimenting an international evidence base that promotes ecological responses to adolescent welfare and social service development, this article suggests that advancing knowledge of peer group assessment and intervention should form a central part of the child protection research agenda.