Working with "Denied" Child Abuse: The Resolutions Approach

Working with "Denied" Child Abuse: The Resolutions Approach

Working with "Denied" Child Abuse: The Resolutions Approach

Working with "Denied" Child Abuse: The Resolutions Approach


  • How can professionals build constructive relationships with families where the parents dispute professional allegations of serious child abuse?
  • How can meaningful safety for children be created in these families?
  • How can professionals work together constructively in such cases?
Situations where parents refute child abuse allegations made against them are often deemed to be impossible or untreatable by statutory and treatment professionals. These cases can consume enormous amounts of professional time and energy and frequently become bogged down by ongoing professional-family mistrust and dispute. Often, the decision to close such cases comes about not because the children are safe, but rather because the professionalsrun out of ideas, time and energy.

Working with 'Denied' Child Abuse presents an innovative, safety-focused, partnership-based, model called Resolutions, which provides an alternative approach for responding rigourously and creatively to such cases. It describes each stage of this practical model and demonstrates the approach through many case examples from therapists, statutory social workers and other professionals working in Europe, North America and Australasia. The book is key reading for legal, health and social care professionals working in the area of child protection.


The world will change when we can imagine it differently, and, like
artists, do the work of creating new social forms.

M.C. Richards

Anatomy of a 'denial' dispute

Imagine you are Jasmina, a social worker on a long-term social services team, and you are presently working with a family comprising Jack, a 42-year-old real estate agent, Janice, a 39-year-old part-time child care assistant, and their daughter Rosemary, who is currently 17 and a half. Rosemary also has an 8-month-old baby, Robert. (This scenario is not an actual case, but rather has been created as a typical composite example of a 'denial' case based on the authors' experience of a number of similar cases.)

This case first came to social services' attention four years ago, when Rosemary was 13 years old. Rosemary's teacher and deputy-principal had become increasingly concerned about their student, since she was often very withdrawn and achieving poor grades relative to her obvious intelligence. The teacher and deputy-principal called a meeting with Jack and Janice to discuss their concerns. As a result of this meeting, it was agreed that Janice would work to help Rosemary with her homework and the school nurse would meet regularly with Rosemary to try and help draw her out of herself.

Thus Rosemary began to see Trisha, the school nurse, on a weekly . . .

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