The crime against children has a long history, children throughout the world have been suffering through horrendous crimes for years now. According to the Global Status Report on preventing violence against children (2020), one out of every two children between the age of 2-17 experience some kind of violence every year, globally (World Health Organization, 2020). Children all over the world are most vulnerable to crime and violence, be it emotional, sexual, physical or verbal and most of the times these crimes occur through those whom the children trust the most, their family members. Violence against children is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be treated more sensitively. Child Protection Services have been considerably administered and developed in recent years. With domestic violence on a rise, both child protection services and safeguarding vulnerable adults have become the need of the hour (Mahase, 2020).
One such case is that of Daniella and her family. A vulnerable adult who is living in a foreign country, a country with a language that is entirely incomprehensible to her, Daniella lives with a husband who is a violent abuser and does not shy away from abusing his kids as well. In such a scenario, it becomes essential to understand Daniellas state of mind, she is understandably scared about the fact that her kids can be taken away from her if she decides to inform the authorities about her husband. The risk involved is far too greater for this fragile family. The other major risk regarding the involvement of child protection services in the case of Daniella are that, studies have repeatedly shown that young adults who were somehow linked to the child protection services in their past have the tendency to develop a very low self-esteem. Daniellas kids may find themselves searching for the sense of belongingness and conducting a search for a concrete identity throughout their lives (Wilson, et al., 2020). In cases which consider the state ordered removal of children from their mother, the notion of haunting futures may take place in the minds of the children as well as their mother. In such a case, mothers get aware of the painful fact that not just the existing children, if this procedure takes place once in their lives, their future pregnancies might also come under the scrutiny of authorities and their future kids mid also be taken away from them, even if they commit no mistakes. A womans life, thus, becomes defined by the scars that she is given by her husband, every step that she takes even in the distant future becomes a replica of the lost identity that was caused by the violence of a man, this process represents how the vulnerable families, especially women of these families live under a constant threat from their partner as well as the state and its legislature. Studies have reported that the laws in UK need to be improved in this regard. Woman cannot stand to be at the losing side of every step that they take in their lives. They cannot be expected to live like this anymore (Morriss, 2018).
The case of Julia, Josefs mother, is also extremely critical. Josef takes the money that Daniella receives as Julias care allowances, in order to give that money to the drug dealers. Julia is a 60-year-old woman, who needs to be cared for. Julias is the case of a vulnerable adult, the term was first used in No Secrets in order to describe those adults who need safeguarding, however, through the implementation of the Care Act 2014, this term was then changed to adults at risk. This new law sought out to protect the adults who were at risk to harm and violence. This act established a flexible framework for adults at risk as well as their care takers. The UK Government is constantly working towards developing new frameworks which may function towards a better establishment of the act (Johnson & Boland, 2019).
In the UK, Elder abuse is a major problem. Studies show that globally, one in every six older person faces abuse. According to a 2021 report published by the House of Lords, the abuse of older people, especially those with dementia, is far more complex, hidden and poorly measured than normal abuse rate among adults. This abuse stays hidden for so long as most of the times, the abuse is not merely physical, it is phycological as well as financial, which causes the abuse to stay hidden as it cannot be reflected on the surface as physical abuse. This form of abuse is recorded to be the most common kind of abuse of the elderly people, it includes the manipulation of the elderly to obtain their assets and belongings through abuse of lasting powers of attorney and various kinds of wills. Over the years the domestic abuse act in the UK and its framework has developed and changed considerably, in 2021, the UK legislation introduced various new aspects of domestic abuse crimes. Still, the families like Daniellas are suffering in the country as they are the truly vulnerable individuals who live at the margins of the society are in no way able to trust the government and its laws entirely (Stephens, et al., 2021).
The fact that Daniellas husband has gotten involved into the haunting business of drugs and now the drug dealers are threating their family is also taking a huge mental toll on Daniella. In this situation even if she is somehow able to gather the money that the drug dealers are demanding, there is absolutely no certainty that they would not try to harm their family again to extort some money or that the husband will not get involved in the same problem again. Daniellas story is extremely heartbreaking as she is the only person in her family who can take any kind of step in order to save her family and she herself is facing immense abuse which might in some away or the other affect her decision-making capability. Exposure to extreme physical abuse can lead to scarring the mental health of the victim for their entire life. Studies have shown that this stress can inevitably affect the victim which may lead to the developing of varying mental illnesses (Yim & Kofman, 2019).
Another problem that Daniellas case face is that the children are way below the age where they could give an intellectual consent regarding their situation, about how they want to transfer themselves to the child protection services or live with their mother. If at this age they are forced to live with unknown authoritative figures, they might end up resenting that were made for them in the absence of intellectual capability (Featherstone, et al., 2019). In the United Kingdom, there are numerous laws that aim towards the safeguarding and protection of children against violence and abuse, these acts aim towards the concept of letting a childs voice be heard and his case be seen, they are very adamant about the quality of education that the children receive, they make sure that the children are provided safety if they decide to start doing a job and make sure that the personal information shared with the government regarding the case remains entirely confidential in order to provide protection to the child from any unforeseeable unfortunate incident (The NSPCC, 2021). The varying immigration policies of UK can undeniably so become an exhausting labyrinth for children who are already suffering immense psychological trauma and the children sometimes end up experiencing a lot more trauma in this maze, thus, it becomes essential for Daniella and her kids to understand the basic process of the child protection services and adapt to this scenario, in order to wark towards a life which is not abusive, rather than not taking anyones help at all. Numerous steps are being taken everyday to make the process of this transition from a family to the child welfare system, a not so excruciating journey for the kids who have to go through all of this through no fault of their own, here, it becomes important that Daniella has some faith in the authorities to give her kids a healthy and at least comparatively a safer life (Lintona, et al., 2018).
Talking about the various concepts of risks, vulnerability, and resilience among different age groups, it can be stated that trauma affects every human being differently, yet, the inherent disorders that trauma may induce in individuals remain basically same on certain levels (Bruce, et al., 2018). One also needs to consider that early age exposure of children to crime, violence and domestic abuse can lead towards a future where, if not taken intensive care, the kids may end up developing some of the similar instincts as the abuser (Finkelhor, et al., 2015).
Over the years, various studies have been conducted in order to understand these concepts and researchers have always come up with diverse results. The definition of Resilience according to the American Psychological Association is that of a process wherein an individual adapts well to the situations of adversity and tragedy. Researchers believe that, while this definition is helpful, it does not comprise the entirely complex nature of the process of resilience. Studies show that the process of Resilience may differ over time according to an individuals age, social and cultural environment, intrapersonal violence or a continuance of stress or trauma in an indefinite manner. The factor of developing a resilient behavior in stressful situations has become so common that people forget that an individual can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or more commonly known as, PTSD, if he or she is forced to carry on with this process without being able to share their traumas. Studies show that in order to enhance resilience in young children, communal and familial support can offer positive results but in Daniellas case, this process cannot be followed as the entire family is facing the similar trauma on varying levels, thus, no one is able to provide the children with and healthy environment where they can develop a resilient behaviour (Southwick, et al., 2014).
Resilience, and the framework of resilience takes a new definition when it comes to family resilience. In this framework, the dimensions of resilience in individuals are broadened, it is affected by the web of relationships. This concept refers to the process where an entire family is going through the same stressful and traumatic situation, all the individuals are affected by one specific traumatic event and end up developing a positive environment that facilitates all those who are suffering, this, in turn, creates a positive family unit (Walsh, 2016). Resilience in familial environment depends on various factors such as relationships within the family, community treatment of the family and individual resilience. In Daniellas case, the development of a family resilience is overbearingly hard as Daniellas kids are not yet old enough to develop the aspects of a resilient behaviour and Julia herself needs to be taken care of, in such a scenario, all the burden of creating a resilient environment comes on Daniellas shoulders. Though the way she adamantly conveys the ideology that she is not going to inform the authority so as to not risk being taken away from her kids, shows a distinct resilient nature of Daniella, but one is forced to be concerned about the fact that under the circumstances that Daniella is facing, how long can one hold on to this ideology before either giving up or taking some kind of drastic step (Maurovi?, et al., 2020).
Studies show that minoritisation plays a big role in domestic violence. Even though the policies regarding domestic violence are being regularly updated by the government, yet, women who come from a cultural and communal minority face comparatively higher amount of domestic abuse. Studies also report that the state policies and the UK immigration law interact with the varying faces of domestic abuse. Researchers repeatedly argue that psychological and legal strategies of the UK government should learn to address the complexities of the processes where state, public and institutionalised practices interact with racism, gender oppression, psychological and physical distress that women with minority background face and the varying class related factors (Burman & Chantler, 2005). Daniella is a woman who came to the UK to live with her husband, even though she does not know how to speak English. Stories of woman like Daniella are not unheard of. Being an immigrant, Daniella is undoubtably afraid that her kids would be taken away from her if the authorities got to know about her situation as everyone is aware of the treatment that immigrants who does not know how to speak the language of the colonizers receive, especially in case of female immigrants. Women like Daniella face a form of two-way othering, othering is the concept where a community or section of the society are othered on the basic of their gender, class, culture or racial background. The two kinds of othering that Daniella risks facing are, othering on the basis of gender and othering on the basis of class and cultural background (Lisiak, 2018). Daniellas story presents a microcosmic view of the life that immigrant women live in the UK. Women have always been considered to be either a certain kind of burden or a possession, an object that the man they marry to is allowed to treat as per his mood, a product of centuries of oppression and patriarchy, this psychological abuse of women has continued throughout centuries, in such a scenario, women like Daniella are forced to become the vulnerable stereotyped abused mother figure that is meant to surrender to the wishes of the men of the household (Maher & Segrave, 2018).
In Daniellas case, the help of a multi-disciplinary team can be helpful, keeping aside the fact that Daniella does not want the involvement of authorities, her case is extremely crucial and involves factors that cannot be eradicated by individual approach (Howard, 2019). Abuse of children as well as adults is an extremely complex social issue that requires an urgent response multi-disciplinary response from an alliance formed between the police, mental health and medical examiners, child welfare authorities and advocates for the abused children and their non-abusive caretakers, or, in this case, their non abusive parent Daniella who herself is being abused by the same person (Young & Nelson-Gardell, 2018). The fact that Daniella is not ready to accept this approach to her situation is entirely understandable as there exist certain kinds of assumptions regarding the multi-disciplinary teams and their mechanisms and they are based on the ineffective ways in which this team has resulted to function in the past. But studies show that this approach and its framework is being improved with every passing year, undeniably, there are still areas where this approach can improve more, still, it is one of the most appropriate ways to tackle Daniellas situation in my opinion (Herbert & Bromfield, 2019).
Both Daniella and Julia belong to the vulnerable group. While conducting clinical researches, vulnerable groups are left out of the clinical research process due to the ethical and scientific reasons. In this manner, the studies rarely show accurate reports as the people who need the study and its results the most are constantly excluded from the clinical researches, leading to a misleading and not entirely factually correct research. It is imperative that these vulnerable groups be included in researches in order to find out the exact results regarding the abuse that vulnerable groups face. Right now, Daniella is not able to take any informed decision because there are not acceptable amount of researches conducted on people like her, resulting in the creation of an entire group of population who is unaware and uneducated regarding this subject and thus, cannot take an informed step towards their own well-being (Finnegan & ODonoghue, 2019). Daniellas situation is extremely crucial and demands to be understood and taken care of. I believe that it is every human beings ethical implication to support and protect those belonging to a vulnerable group. Daniella herself is not able to carry out an educated and thoroughly evaluated decision as she is extremely vulnerable and her situation is psychology affecting her decision-making capability as well. In such a scenario, if she decides to ask help from me, it becomes an ethical and moral implication for me to help her out as I have a far more privileged standing than her in this situation (Gaillard, 2018).
As I myself, am not in a professional situation to guide Daniella throughout the process, I would try to calm her first and then make her understand that no matter how hard and hurtful the process ends up being, right now, taking the help of authorities is the only way through which Daniella can help herself and her kids. It is indeed a possibility that the Child Protection services might take her children away from her, but that is, in a way, a far better option than exposing the innocent kids to the extreme brutality of their father. I would also try to make her understand that being involved with drug dealers can prove to be immensely life threatening and in such a situation, one wrong step can whirl Daniellas entire life around. The process of choosing to give her kids away to the authority can not be easy for any mother, but in her case, if she does not seek the help of authorities, her kids might end up being hurt way too much to ever recover from the trauma of all this. But it is also essential for her to understand that her kids need to get away from this abuse in order to have a chance at a normal life. No one deserves to face abuse, let alone infants who do not even understand what is happening to them, reports have shown that maltreatment of kids that began in infancy has the tendency to be extremely chronic and constant (Putnam-Hornstein, et al., 2015). I would ask Daniella if she is not able to contact the authorities directly, if she would be comfortable with a scenario where I contact the authorities on her behalf. Once the authorities have been contacted, it would indeed be hard for Daniella to go through this process alone, as I am not professionally capable to do anything more, I would try my best to support her emotionally throughout the process.
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