Making Scotland an ACE informed nation: continuing the conversation – an event summary

dogbod2018, blog

by Dr Emma Davidson We began a conversation on ACEs and resilience in December 2017 at the seminar, ‘The Troubling Concept of Resilience’, where Dr Eric Carlin and myself voiced our concerns that the dominant narrative on resilience could obscure inequalities; penalising individuals by making them responsible for their own wellbeing. Since then, we have witnessed the mounting influence of ACE and resilience-focused policy in Scotland. It is now even more important to provide a space in which popular rhetoric on ACEs and resilience can be constructively and respectfully critiqued. Our event on 6th November 2018 aimed to reignite that process. We welcomed three speakers: Dr Amy Chandler, Dr Cara Blaisdell and Laura Wright, each of whom talked from their perspective of their own field of research. Amy’s presentation (which you can watch here) examined the potentially counter-productive ways ACEs are used in research on suicide and self-harm. Early experiences, Amy noted, are undeniably important in shaping later risks of, or experiences with, suicide and self-harm. However, there is a tendency to rely on a mechanical or ‘addictive’ analysis, with a correlation drawn between early adversity and later problems. The work of explaining what these correlations actually mean, or understanding the mechanisms … Read More

Ace Awareness, damage narratives and social justice in early years practice: personal and professional reflections

dogbod2018, blog

As an experienced practitioner, researcher and lecturer specializing in early childhood education, I have had a mixed reaction to the recent push for being ACE Aware. Discussions about love, kindness and empathy are very welcome and needed. At Strathclyde, our students discuss how their settings are moving away from punitive practices, toward… Read More »

Bringing girls’ gender identities into children’s rights

dogbod2018, blog

Whilst attending the UN Day of General Discussion in Geneva, I was part of a panel discussion of adults and young people sharing the platform equally, which in itself signified much more than dialogue at the UN level; it was a milestone reflecting a substantial change on the way that children and young people can be positioned in public decision-making.… Read More »

Transferring ECEC to education: does it make a difference?

dogbod2018, blog

Two decades ago England, Scotland and Sweden moved responsibility for all early childhood education and care services (ECEC) and school-aged childcare(SACC) into education. These reforms and their consequences were examined in a cross-national study published in 2004: A New Deal for Children? Re-Forming Education and Care in England, Scotland and Sweden… Read More »

What does ‘home’ mean for children whose parents have separated?

dogbod2018, blog

Home is a familiar yet complex idea. Its meaning extends beyond a physical dwelling to include a feeling of comfort, a sense of control over space, connections with family and other important people, and a site in which rituals and routines create feelings of belonging. A sense of home can be important in helping people build their identity, psychological wellbeing and trust in… Read More »

Time to abandon prevalence studies of childhood sexual abuse?

dogbod2018, blog

by Dr Sarah Nelson CRFR Associate Researcher Dr Sarah Nelson reflects on the problematic issues around prevalence studies of childhood sexual abuse. The wealth of prevalence studies of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) continue to display wildly differing results. Yet the impetus to carry out more studies continues, nationally and internationally. These studies are driven by the demands of commissioners and funders to ‘prove’ need before services are provided or expanded, but also by professional ambition among researchers to be the ones producing a definitive study. Neither of these is a child-centred approach, especially when basic services – as for instance an NSPCC Scotland report recently demonstrated – remain inadequate for the minority of sexually abused children we do know about. I suggest that conventional prevalence studies are largely fruitless, and that greater accuracy about prevalence will come about as a by-product of ethical, child-centred practice against sexual abuse. First of all, while factors like safety and confidentiality, follow-up, inclusion of stigmatised subgroups, and description of acts rather than terms like ‘abuse’ or ‘rape’ will produce more accurate survey findings, we will never approach anything like total accuracy about a secretive, often organised crime overlaid with coercion, shame and silencing. Crucially, … Read More

In a search for competence? Children’s participation in family law proceedings

dogbod2018, blog

I have been on a journey for the few past months, in terms of exploring the underlying reasons why we find it so challenging to involve children and young people in decisions that affect them. Involving children and young people is required by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is frequently promoted by policy, institutional leaders and key practitioners… Read More »

Children’s Participation in Decision-Making: Questioning Competence and Competencies

dogbod2018, blog

Children’s participation rights remain highly dependent on adults, who in one way or another, hold powerful positions such as legal guardians, administrative or political decision-makers, or front-line professionals. The attitudes of such adults towards children and childhood strongly influence whether or not the adults recognise, facilitate and support children’s participation… Read More »

The red flags are everywhere, but nobody can see them

dogbod2018, blog

by Dr Emma Katz Dr Emma Katz argues that Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ glamorises the controlling behaviours used in domestic abuse. Coercive control is a harmful criminal offence, yet it hides in plain sight. Sitting front and centre within our culture, it is performed routinely before our eyes. Coercive and controlling behaviours are glamorised in plotlines where abusers are sexy and romantic bad boys, and women enjoy being dominated and suppressed. It is vital that we challenge these representations, in order to tackle coercive control effectively. The UK has recently taken the bold step of making coercive or controlling behaviour within intimate relationships a criminal offence. This is a breakthrough in our efforts to tackle domestic violence and abuse. Perpetrators can now be prosecuted for controlling their partner’s activities, damaging their partner’s confidence and self-esteem, and isolating them from family and friends. But prosecutions and convictions have so far been disappointingly low, and the majority of police officers have not received training on how to identify coercive and controlling behaviours. This lack of action is partly fuelled by the representation of these behaviours in mainstream Western media. A prime example can be found in the critically-acclaimed Netflix series The Crown, and … Read More

Resilience in early years—continuing the conversation

dogbod2018, blog

by Dr Caralyn Blaisdell Dr Caralyn Blaisdell continues our discussion on the theme of resilience and how this term is being used. “We like to think of childhood as a time of joy and innocence—for many of us it’s just not true.” …so opens the trailer for the Resilience documentary, an American film currently touring through the children’s sector in Scotland. The film is a public service announcement dealing with the “biology of stress and the science of hope”. It explores the ways that exposure to trauma, particularly during childhood, affects a person’s whole being, and looks at associations with future health outcomes. Research suggests that prolonged stress is associated with poorer health outcomes in childhood and adulthood. The film specifically focuses on the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study but resonates with a wider body of research—for example, hypotheses about the ‘weathering’ effects on health of chronic stressors such as racism. The tagline for the film is ‘the biology of stress and the science of hope’. It is perhaps the ‘hope’ elements of the documentary that are particularly important to interrogate. The film is from a US context and – perhaps unsurprisingly, given its origin – focuses largely on individualised remedies. … Read More