By Helen Buckley.
Jessica Kingsley Publishing
ISBN 1 84310 075 4
This is a frank, no-punches-pulled description and discussion on
the child protection system in the Republic of Ireland during the
1990s. Buckley’s style makes uncomfortable reading for those who
prefer not to look too closely at how we protect our children, or
not. It is an honest appraisal, as the author tackles the
“uncertain and untidy activity” of child protection, and points out
that it cannot be translated into an entirely rational procedure
which adheres strictly to regulations.
Irish child protection received a jolt after the report of the
Kilkenny incest case in 1993 and Irish culture began to accept the
uncomfortable fact of sexual abuse. As regards physical abuse,
Buckley highlights differences in professional attitudes towards
the travelling community and the rest of the population. This
echoes UK attitudes towards ethnic communities. She also notes the
“gender blindness” of social workers, who focus on mothers even
when it is fathers who are responsible for abuse. Her comments
about professionals being afraid to confront violent men echoes
similar views expressed in the Victoria Climbie Report. This is a
thoughtful book, relevant to UK practice too.
Anne Bannister is a child psychotherapist and editor (with
Annie Huntington) of Communicating with Children and Adolescents:
Action for Change, 2002.