||Child Abuse Errors: When Good Intentions Go Wrong
||Harvester Wheatsheaf ©1992
A division of Simon & Schuster International Group
This 226-page book consists of 9 chapters which examine the history of error
within the Child Protection System in Britain. Theories which generate error and
the pseudo science, on which much practice is based, are considered in depth along
way in which sexual abuse as a problem has been socially constructed, which in
turn generates further problems.
Quite apart from a theoretical explanation as to errors in child protection, the
author presents case studies to demonstrate the impact on those individuals and
families who are on the receiving end.
Social Work, more specifically the Child Protection System, has been subject to
much adverse criticisms in the wake of individual inquiries and the bigger
disasters such as Cleveland, Rochdale and the Orkneys.
Howitt, using psychological, historical, medical and sociological perspectives
analyses why these errors and their attendant injustices have happened. He
expresses particular concern as to the way in which the Child Protection System
sees itself as immune from both internal and external evaluation, with the
result that CPS is not accountable for its actions or decisions.
In support of this thesis, he subjects the theory and research which underpins
child abuse professional practice to rigorous analysis, showing in the process
that much of the theory is unfounded and the research pseudo-scientific.
Howitt's work points to the need for a new organizational ethos within the Child
Protection System, which regards errors, not as catastrophes, but as endemic to
professional activity. Such an approach, allied to objective rather than "in
house" research, may contribute to a reduction in error and an improvement in
Child Abuse Errors is one of the few attempts in the British context to analyze
what is wrong with the child abuse system. As such, it is essential reading for
all those concerned with child abuse care and protection. Similar works are
available in the U.S.A. and those are identified in the comprehensive
Reviewed by D. Long, Child & Family Counselor, Parents Against INjustice, 3
Riverside Business Park, Stansted, Essex, CM24 8PL, England.