By Guardian Penny Wright
This week is National Child Protection Week, an annual event that aims to engage the whole community in protecting children and supporting families.
This year’s theme introduces the idea of a ‘child development’ communication frame. Rather than talking about good, bad or effective parenting, the child development communication frame shifts the focus to the support parents need to raise thriving children.
This approach reflects the evidence that children do well when their parents are supported and that we can all play a part in supporting parents when they need help to navigate life’s choppy waters.
This is based on research from the Frameworks Institute, commissioned by the Parenting Research Centre that looks at how the way we communicate can affect children’s outcomes.
By changing the way we talk about parenting, by avoiding criticism and judgement, we can focus on what effective parenting is really about – ensuring children are provided with a safe and stable environment that enables them to thrive.
Effective early intervention and prevention programs for families at risk of entering the child protection system are essential to ensuring parents are supported. For this reason, we welcome the $3 million in funding to trial an intensive family support program for South Australian families in the northern suburbs that targets support to those at risk.
In situations where children are no longer safe and protected from abuse and neglect and do enter care, it’s important they remain the central focus of our thoughts and communication. Each child in care is a unique individual in a huge system. To avoid the risk that they may be overlooked or ‘lost’, we are committed to adopting a child-centred approach in our advocacy and visiting functions. As advocates, we will continue to encourage others to do the same in what can sometimes be an overwhelming and complex structure.
This National Child Protection Week, and every day, we can all play a role in ensuring children are safe and protected from harm. The words we choose have impact. The way we talk about children can become their inner voice. Let’s all work together to communicate what is really at stake – a happy, healthy future for all of our children.