Approximately two years ago, a friend of mine Claire has told me a story which has impressed me greatly. Her neighbors, a young couple, had an eight-years old son and Claire has noticed that the boy was not sociable - he never talked to anybody and she was trying to approach him he started to cry and closed his face with hands. She also noticed bruises on his arms and legs. She decided to talk with his parents but she knocked their door, a drunk has opened it and told not to intervene into his life, he knows better how to deal with his son. Later Claire has found out that the mother of the boy had mental problems and most of the time was in the hospitals, while the father of the boy was used to drinking. As the result, nobody took care of the boy and, most likely, his father often beat him up. When she has finished the story, I could not say anything. I knew that in such cases the special services should be informed, but did not know whether we had the right to intervene.
Now I know that in this case the intervention in family life is compulsory because the child needs protection. The partnership with parents should be still encouraged. When the child is of sufficient age and understanding, he should be kept fully informed of the processes involving his and decisions about their future should take account of their views. This boy is not of sufficient age to understand the harm being done to him, however the cooperation of his father with social workers might improve the situation in the family.
The first step to be taken in this situation is to contact Social Services or the police. Once it is done, the law states that the police has the responsibility to investigate the case and they cannot ignore this information. In the majority cases the investigation is carried out either by police or social worker (Fowler 2002), while in this particular case the involvement of both authorities might be required.
Social worker should interview the child - the child's point of view may provide the first opportunity to talk to adults who are ready to listen and believe that the child tells the truth. The child might describe the experiences which have never been told before. When there are barriers to communication (lack of social skills, for example), the social worker must be show that he is the friend and came to help. The child should never be interviewed in the presence of the perpetrator (Fowler 2002). The father should not prevent communication between his child and the social worker. The interview should be conducted as soon as possible in order to minimize the danger of the child retracting a true allegation because of fear or as the result of the pressure.
Agencies working together to protect the children should agree a common understanding at each stage of work, of how children and parents are involved in child protection process and what information is shared. All of the involved parties should be open, make joint decisions and willing to listen to families. In any case, the welfare of the child should be in the first place. The family structures are very complex and, in addition to those adults who have daily care of the child, grandparents and other family members play an important role in the child's life. During family