Racism

Children from black and minority ethnic groups (and their parents) may well have experienced harassment, racial discrimination and institutional racism. Although racism causes significant harm it is not, in itself, a category of abuse.

The experience of racism is likely to affect the responses of the child and family to assessment and enquiry processes. Failure to consider the effects of racism will undermine efforts to protect children from other forms of significant harm. The effects of racism differ for different communities and individuals, and should not be assumed to be uniform.

The specific needs of children of mixed parentage and refugee children should be given attention. In particular, the need for neutral, high quality, gender-appropriate translation or interpretation services should be taken into account when working with children and families whose language of normal use is not English.

All organisations working with children, including those operating in areas where black and minority ethnic communities are numerically small or apparently invisible should address institutional racism, defined in the Macpherson Inquiry Report on Stephen Lawrence as “the collective failure by an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people on account of their race, culture and/or religion”.

 “The assessment process should maintain a focus on the needs of the individual child” . There should be an awareness of cultural factors but these should not cloud assessment of significant harm.

 “Anxiety about being accused of racist practice should not prevent the necessary action being taken to safeguard a child”. Professionals should be aware of the strengths within families, ethnic groups and communities and where possible should use these as a resource for the protection of children.