It is often said that despite the time, expense and heartache expended on child abuse inquiries, little new comes out of them. In "Beyond Blame," 35 reports, which have been available since 1973, are reviewed within a systemic framework to see whether family systems ideas, with their interest in relationships, would help a re-analysis of each case at the center of the inquiry and whether this would allow new lessons to emerge.
This is the first book to summarize all of the major inquiries and set them in their social context. In addition to acknowledging professional responsibility and accountability, the authors go well beyond these concerns in order to make sense of professional behavior and decision taking and to break new ground in understanding events leading up to the children's deaths. Common themes within abusing families are identified, in the relationships between members of the professional networks, and in the interactions between the families and professionals. These patterns are discussed and illustrated with extracts from the relevant cases. The authors suggest how their inferences can be applied in order to enhance professional practice and emphasize that professionals should consider relationships in many areas when assessing risk of harm to a child. The implications also have relevance for the conduct of future child abuse inquiries.
"Beyond Blame" is of interest to all professionals involved in child protection, including social workers, psychologists, and child psychiatrists as well as to policy makers such as managers and politicians.